Sunday September 16, 2018
Twenty-fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time (B)
Gospel Mark 8: 27-35
Jesus and his disciples set out for the villages of Caesarea Philippi. Along the way he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that I am?” They said in reply, “John the Baptist, others Elijah, still others one of the prophets.” And he asked them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter said to him in reply, “You are the Christ.” Then he warned them not to tell anyone about him. He began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer greatly and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed, and rise after three days. He spoke this openly. Then Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. At this he turned around and, looking at his disciples, rebuked Peter and said, “Get behind me, Satan. You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do.” He summoned the crowd with his disciples and said to them, “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and that of the gospel will save it.”
Ebanjelioa Markos 8: 27-35
27 Gero, Feliperen Zesarea inguruko auzoetarantz abiatu zen Jesus bere ikasleekin. Bidean galdera hau egin zien: –Ni nor naizela dio jendeak? 28 Haiek erantzun zioten:
–Batzuek Joan Bataiatzailea zarela; beste batzuek Elias; besteek profetaren bat. 29 Jesusek berriro galdetu zien: –Eta zuek, nor naizela diozue? Pedrok erantzun: –Zu Mesias zara. 30 Eta Jesusek inori ere ez esateko agindu zien zorrotz. 31 Orduan, irakasten hasi zitzaien, Gizonaren Semeak asko sufritu behar zuela; zahar, apaizburu eta lege-maisuek gaitzetsi egingo zutela eta hil; eta hiru egunen buruan piztu egingo zela. 32 Argi eta garbi mintzatzen zitzaien honetaz. Pedro, Jesus aparte harturik, gogor egiten hasi zitzaion. 33 Baina Jesusek, itzuli eta ikasleei begira, gogor eraso zion Pedrori, esanez: –Alde nire ondotik, Satanas! Hire asmoak ez dituk Jainkoarenak, gizakiarenak baizik. 34 Gero, jendeari eta ikasleei dei eginik, esan zien Jesusek: «Nire ondoren etorri nahi duenak uko egin biezaio bere buruari, bere gurutzea hartu eta jarrai biezat. 35 Izan ere, bere bizia gorde nahi duenak galdu egingo du; bere bizia niregatik eta berri onagatik galtzen duenak, ordea, gorde egingo du.
Who do you say that I am?
This episode plays a central and decisive role in the Gospel of Mark. It has been a while already that the disciples have been living together with Jesus. Now the time has arrived when they will have to pronounce clearly their intentions. Whom are they following? What is it they discover in Jesus that makes them follow HIM? What is it they captured in HIS life, HIS message and HIS project?
Ever since they decided to join him, the disciples keep questioning about HIS identity. What strikes them most is the authority with which HE speaks, HIS power to heal the sick and the love with which HE offers God’s forgiveness to sinners. Who is this man in whom all feel God, as a close friend of life and forgiveness?
Among the people who have not lived with HIM run all kinds of rumors, but Jesus is interested in knowing, firsthand, the position of his disciples: “But who do you say that I am?” It is not enough that each may have accurate opinions about HIM. It is essential that those who are committed to HIS vision, acknowledge the mystery, which is hidden in HIM. If that is not the case then, who will be able to keep alive HIS message? What will be of the great dream of the kingdom of God? How will end up that little group of friends Jesus was trying to build into an ecclesial community?
The question is also vital for his future disciples. The response to the question will radically affect us all. No one can follow Jesus light heartedly or unconsciously. We all need to know HIM more deeply and feel totally identified with HIS dream and project of the Kingdom of God.
Peter, collecting the experiences they have lived with HIM so far, replied on behalf of all: “You are the Christ.” Peter’s confession is still limited, because the disciples did not yet know Jesus’ crucifixion at the hands of HIS enemies. They cannot imagine even in their wildest dream, that Jesus will be raised up by the Father and declared as HIS ONLY beloved Son. They are unaware still of the many experiences that will allow them capture everything that lies hidden in Jesus. It is only by following HIM closely that they will discover all of that, with growing faith.
For us Christians today it is vital to recognize and acknowledge ever more deeply the mystery of Jesus the Christ. If we ignore Christ, the Church will remain ignoring herself and her mission. If we fail to know and recognize Christ, then we will fail to know that which is the most essential and decisive of our task and mission. To know and confess Jesus Christ is not enough to fill our mouths with impressive Christological titles. We must follow closely, walk on HIS footsteps and work with him every day.
Sunday September 9, 2018
Twenty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time (B)
Gospel Mark 7: 31-37
Again, Jesus left the district of Tyre and went by way of Sidon to the Sea of Galilee, into the district of the Decapolis. And people brought to him a deaf man who had a speech impediment and begged him to lay his hand on him. He took him off by himself away from the crowd. He put his finger into the man’s ears and, spitting, touched his tongue; then he looked up to heaven and groaned, and said to him, “Ephphatha!”— that is, “Be opened!” — And immediately the man’s ears were opened, his speech impediment was removed, and he spoke plainly. He ordered them not to tell anyone. But the more he ordered them not to, the more they proclaimed it. They were exceedingly astonished, and they said, “He has done all things well. He makes the deaf hear and the mute speak.”
Ebanjelioa Markos 7: 31-37
31 Utzi zuen Jesusek Tiro aldea eta, Sidonen barrena, Galileako aintzirara iritsi zen berriro, Dekapolisko lurraldean zehar. 32 Gizon gor bat eraman zioten, hizmotela gainera, eta eskua ezartzeko eskatu zioten. 33 Jesusek, jendearengandik aparte harturik, hatzak belarrietan sartu zizkion eta listuz mihia ukitu. 34 Gero, zerura begiratuz, hasperen egin eta esan zion: «Effata!» (hau da, «Ireki!»). 35 Eta une berean, ireki egin zitzaizkion belarriak, mihia askatu eta garbi hitz egiten hasi zen. 36 Gertatua inori ez aipatzeko agindu zien Jesusek; baina zenbat eta gehiago agindu, orduan eta areago zabaltzen zuten. 37 Eta biziki harrituta, honela zioten: «Ongi egin du dena: gorrei entzunarazi eta mutuei hitz eragin».
Lord, Heal our Deafness!
The prophets of Israel often used “deafness” as a provocative metaphor to speak about the closure and resistance of the people to listen and obey their God. The prophets repeatedly cry out that Israel “has ears but cannot hear” what God is saying. Therefore, a prophet calls everyone to conversion with these words: “You deaf, listen and hear!”
In this context, the healings of a deaf person, narrated in the Gospels, are to be read as “parables to conversion,” which invite us to let us be healed by Jesus from our deafness and resistance that keep us from listening his call to follow HIM. Mark, in concrete, provides in his account, highly suggestive nuances to help Christian communities work in this process of conversion. I shall mention three.
A deaf person lives oblivious to everyone. H/She does not seem to be aware of the personal situation and does nothing to approach the one who can heal him/her. In today’s narrative, and luckily for him, some friends are interested and carry him to Jesus. This is the first step for a Christian community as it tells us how we must take care of each other: a group of brothers and sisters who help one another to live around Jesus and letting us experience the healing power of Jesus.
Healing deafness is not easy. Jesus took him apart to a discrete place to work on it. We can see here the second attitude Christian communities need to build up: Recollection and personal relationship with all those in need is necessary. We need in our Christian communities to create a climate that allows a more intimate and vital contact with Jesus. Faith in Jesus emerges and matures through a personal relationship with HIM.
Jesus works hard on the ears and the tongue of the patient, but this alone is not enough. It is necessary that the deaf person cooperate also, in his healing. Therefore, Jesus, after lifting his eyes to heaven, asking His Father to be with Him in this healing process, shouts at the deaf person the very first word any person deaf to Jesus and his Gospel needs to hear: “Open up.” “Ephphatha!”
This is indeed the third step of the Christian community in the process of healing: it is urgent that, we, Christians hear the call of Jesus also today. These are not easy times for the Church. We are asked to act with lucidity and responsibility. It would be disastrous that we live today deaf to Jesus’ Cry, or ignore HIS words of life, or not listen to the Good News, or not read the signs of the times, and live locked in our deafness. The power of Jesus can heal us.
Sunday September 2, 2018
Twenty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time (B)
Gospel Mark 7: 1-8, 14-15, 21-23
When the Pharisees with some scribes who had come from Jerusalem gathered around Jesus, they observed that some of his disciples ate their meals with unclean, that is, unwashed, hands. —For the Pharisees and, in fact, all Jews, do not eat without carefully washing their hands, keeping the tradition of the elders. And on coming from the marketplace they do not eat without purifying themselves. And there are many other things that they have traditionally observed, the purification of cups and jugs and kettles and beds. — So the Pharisees and scribes questioned him, “Why do your disciples not follow the tradition of the elders but instead eat a meal with unclean hands?” He responded, “Well did Isaiah prophesy about you hypocrites, as it is written: This people honors me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines human precepts. You disregard God’s commandment but cling to human tradition.” He summoned the crowd again and said to them, “Hear me, all of you, and understand. Nothing that enters one from outside can defile that person; but the things that come out from within are what defile. “From within people, from their hearts, come evil thoughts, unchastity, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, licentiousness, envy, blasphemy, arrogance, folly. All these evils come from within and they defile.”
Ebanjelioa Markos 7: 1-8, 14-15, 21-23
1 Behin batean, fariseuak eta Jerusalemdik etorritako zenbait lege-maisu hurbildu zitzaizkion Jesusi, 2 eta konturatu ziren, honen ikasle batzuek otordua esku kutsatuekin egiten zutela, eskuen garbikuntza egin gabe, alegia. 3 Izan ere, fariseuek, eta juduek oro har, ez dute behin ere jaten lehenbizi eskuak arretaz garbitu gabe, zaharren ohiturari tinko eutsiz. 4 Azokatik etxeratzean ere, ez dute jaten garbikuntza egin gabe; eta badute beste hamaika ohiturazko betebehar: hala nola edalontzi, pitxer eta suilen garbiketa. 5 Horrela bada, galdera hau egin zioten fariseuek eta lege-maisuek Jesusi: –Zergatik ez dute zure ikasleek zaharren ohiturari dagokionez jokatzen? Nolatan jaten dute esku kutsatuekin? 6 Jesusek erantzun zien: –Itxurazaleok halakook! Ederki asko esan zuen zuetaz Isaias profetak, honako hau idatzi zuenean: Herri honek ezpainez ohoratzen nau,
baina niregandik urrun du bihotza; 7 alferrik naute gurtzen;hauen irakaspena giza agindu hutsa. 8 «Zuek, Jainkoaren agindua bazterrera utzi eta giza ohiturari eusten diozue». 14 Jesusek berriro jendeari dei egin eta esan zion: «Entzun niri denok eta ulertu ongi! 15 Ez da deus ere, kanpotik gizakiaren barrura sartuz, hau kutsa dezakeenik; barrutik ateratzen zaionak, horrek kutsatzen du gizakia». 21 Izan ere, barrutik, gizakiaren bihotzetik, ateratzen dira asmo txarrak, lizunkeria, lapurretak, hilketak, 22 adulterioak, diru-gosea, gaiztakeriak, maltzurkeria, lasaikeria, bekaizkeria, irainak, harrokeria, burugabekeria. 23 Gaiztakeria guztiok barrutik irteten dira, eta hauek dute gizakia kutsatzen.
Seek First Jesus Christ and the Kingdom of God!
We do not know when or where the clash took place. Mark is only interested in evoking the kind of an atmosphere in which Jesus moved, surrounded by scribes, scrupulous observers of the multiple traditions, which blindly resisted to the novelty the Prophet of Love wanted to introduce into their lives. They were enormously disappointed with the Messiah God had chosen to send them. This man…!!! Unbelievable!!!!!!!!!
The Pharisees observed, outraged, that his disciples eat with unclean hands. They could not tolerate it: “Why do your disciples not follow the tradition of the elders?” Although they speak about the disciples, it is obvious the attack was directed at Jesus. They were right. Jesus was the one breaking their attitude of blind obedience to traditions as he tried to create around him a “space of freedom” where what matters was love, authenticity and coherent life style.
That group of religious teachers did not understand anything about the kingdom of God Jesus was announcing. God did not reign in their hearts. On the contrary, it was the law, rules, uses and customs marked by traditions that were still reigning in them. For them the important thing was to observe the provisions passed on to them, by the “eldest.” They did not take time to think about what was good for the simple people. They were not interested in “seeking first the kingdom of God and its righteousness.”
This was a serious mistake. Therefore, Jesus responded to them with harsh words: “You disregard God’s commandment but cling to human tradition.” The doctors of the law spoke reverently about the “tradition of the elders” and even dared to attribute divine authority to those rules and rubrics, while Jesus refers to them as mere “human traditions.” We are never to mix up God’s will with what is the result of human ruling.
It would also be a serious mistake today that the Church would remain prisoner of human traditions invented by our ancestors, when everything around us is calling each one of us to a profound conversion to Jesus Christ, our only Master and Lord. Our concern today must be not so much to preserve intact the past, but to facilitate the birth of a new Church and more Christian communities, capable to reproduce in total fidelity the Gospel of Christ, and to update the project of the Kingdom of God in our contemporary society. Our first responsibility is not so much to repeat the past, as to enable the acceptance of Jesus Christ, without hiding or darken HIM with our human traditions, however venerable they may appear to be.
Sunday August 26, 2018
Twenty-first Sunday in Ordinary Time (B)
Gospel Jn 6: 60-69
Many of Jesus ‘disciples who were listening said, “This saying is hard; who can accept it?” Since Jesus knew that his disciples were murmuring about this, he said to them, “Does this shock you? What if you were to see the Son of Man ascending to where he was before? It is the spirit that gives life, while the flesh is of no avail. The words I have spoken to you are Spirit and life. But there are some of you who do not believe.” Jesus knew from the beginning the ones who would not believe and the one who would betray him. And he said, “For this reason I have told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by my Father.” As a result of this, many of his disciples returned to their former way of life and no longer accompanied him. Jesus then said to the Twelve, “Do you also want to leave?” Simon Peter answered him, “Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and are convinced that you are the Holy One of God.”
Ebanjelioa Joan 6: 60-69
60 Jesusen hitzok entzutean, haren ikasleetariko askok esan zuen: «Onargaitza da mezu hau. Nork jaramon egin? » 61 Jesusek, ikasleak marmarka ari zirela oharturik, esan zien: «Honek eragozten al dizue sinestea? 62 Bada, Gizonaren Semea lehen zegoen tokira igotzen ikusiko bazenute, zer gertatuko ote? 63 Espiritua da bizia ematen duena; gizakia berez ez da ezertarako. Nik eman dizkizuedan irakatsiak espiritu eta bizi dira. 64 Baina badira zuen artean sinesten ez duten batzuk». Izan ere, Jesusek hasieratik zekien nork ez zuen sinesten eta nork salduko zuen. 65 Eta esan zuen, gainera: «Horregatik esan dizuet ezin dela inor ere niregana hurbildu, Aitak ez badio horretarako gaitasuna ematen». 66 Geroztik, haren ikasleetariko askok atzera jo zuen, eta aurrerantzean ez ziren harekin ibili. 67 Orduan, esan zien Jesusek Hamabiei: –Zuek ere alde egin nahi al duzue? 68 Erantzun zion Simon Pedrok: –Jauna, norengana joango gara? Betiko bizia dute zure irakatsiek. 69 Eta guk sinetsi dugu eta badakigu zu zarela Jainkoaren Santua.
Living from the Words and Actions of Jesus
During these past years, many researches and studies have taken place to determine the causes of the crisis of many Christian Churches in modern society. It is indeed necessary to do these studies to, better be able to understand some historical facts, but they are insufficient to discern what should be our reaction.
The episode narrated by John in today’s Gospel can help us interpret and live the present crisis of the church from a more evangelical perspective. According to the evangelist, Jesus sums up the crisis, which is taking place among his closest group, as follows: “The words I have spoken to you are Spirit and Life. And yet, some of you will not believe.”
It is true. Jesus introduces in his followers a new Spirit; His Words and Actions convey them Life; what Jesus proposes can generate a new movement capable of guiding the world toward a more dignified and fulfilling life-style: toward the realization of the Kingdom of God. But, are they ready to follow him? Are we ready to give up our lives and let ourselves enter this revolutionary mission Jesus demands from his followers?
Just the fact of “belonging” to the group of Jesus does not guarantee the faith and self-abandonment this project of Jesus demands. There may be some in the group, who wish to belong to the group of friends of Jesus, formally, but refuse to accept His words and actions, which give Spirit and Life. Theirs is a fictional idea of Jesus; their faith in him is not real. They would like another type of Jesus with different words and actions. These people would like a Jesus who speaks more about going to the temple to pray and does not challenge our behavior once we leave the temple.
The real crisis then, in the time of Jesus, and now among Christians is the same: do we believe or do not in Jesus? The Evangelist says, “Many of his disciples returned to their former way of life and no longer accompanied him.”
It is during a crisis when it becomes clear who the true followers of Jesus are. The decisive choice is always to observe who are really the ones who abandon and who remain with Him, who are those who fully identify themselves with His Spirit and Life? Who is in favor and who is against the project of the Kingdom of God? Because of Jesus’ challenging remarks, the group begins to decrease.
Jesus does not get irritated by it and does not pronounce any judgment against anyone. He just asks a question to those with him: “Do you also want to leave?” It is the very question Jesus asks each one of us who remain today in the Church: What is it that do you, and I, want? Why do we remain in the Church? Is it to follow Jesus, accepting his Spirit and His life-style? Is it to work in His great project to build the Kingdom of God? Or what?
Peter’s response is exemplary: “Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.” Those of us, who remain in the church, must do so for Jesus. Only because of Jesus. Not for anything else. We are determined to carry on with the mission of Jesus. Jesus and His Spirit and Actions are the only reason we decide to stay in this group.
However painful the current crisis of the Church may seem to be, will be positive if, those of us who decide to remain in the Church, many or few it does not matter, continue with our process of becoming disciples of Jesus, that is, men and women who live from His Words and Actions.
Sunday August 19, 2018
Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time (B)
Gospel Jn 6: 51-58
Jesus said to the crowds: “I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world.” The Jews quarreled among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” Jesus said to them, “Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day. For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him. Just as the living Father sent me and I have life because of the Father, so also the one who feeds on me will have life because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven. Unlike your ancestors who ate and still died, whoever eats this bread will live forever.”
Ebanjelioa Joan 6: 51-58
51 Neu naiz zerutik jaitsia den ogi bizia; ogi honetatik jaten duenak betiko bizia izango du. Eta nik emanen dudan ogia nire gorputza da, mundua bizi dadin emana». 52 Hitz hauek eztabaida gogorra sortu zuten entzuleen artean. Honela zioten: –Nola eman diezaguke honek bere gorputza jaten? 53 Jesusek esan zien: –Bene-benetan diotsuet: Gizonaren Semearen gorputza jaten eta haren odola edaten ez baduzue, ez duzue bizirik izango zeuengan. 54 Nire gorputza jaten eta nire odola edaten duenak betiko bizia du, eta neuk piztuko dut azken egunean. 55 Zeren nire gorputza benetako janari baita, eta nire odola benetako edari. 56 Nire gorputza jaten eta nire odola edaten duena nirekin bat eginda dago, eta ni berarekin. 57 Bizia duen Aitak bidali ninduen eta hari esker dut nik bizia; halaxe, ni jaten nauenak ere niri esker izango du bizia. 58 Hau da zerutik jaitsi den ogia; ez da zuen gurasoek jan zutena bezalakoa, haiek hil egin baitziren; ogi honetatik jaten duenak betiko bizia izango du.
We are what we eat!
The Gospel of John uses strong wording to insist on the need to nourish ourselves in the communion with Jesus Christ. Only with this communion with Christ, we shall be able to experience in our lives His very life. According to John, it is necessary to eat Jesus: “whoever eats me, will live by me.”
The language acquires an even more aggressive character when Jesus says we must eat HIS very flesh and drink his very own blood. The text is unequivocal. “My flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me and me in him.”
This language does not seem produce any impact among many Christians anymore. Accustomed, as we are, to hear it from childhood, we tend to think about what we have done since our first communion. We all know the doctrine learned in catechism: at the moment of communion, Christ is present in us by the grace of the sacrament of the Eucharist.
Unfortunately, all of this tends to remain as an accepted pious doctrine. In most of the cases, we lack the experience of bringing the real Christ to our everyday lives. We do not know how to open ourselves up to him so that He may nourish, with his Spirit, our everyday life and transform it making it a more human and evangelical one.
Eating Christ’s flesh is much more than vaguely approaching ourselves to meet HIM in the sacramental rite of receiving the consecrated bread. Communion with Christ requires a leap of faith and, yes, an experience of special intensity during the sacramental communion, one which must also be experienced in other moments of our daily life, especially in our encounter with the people in need with whom Jesus identified HIMSELF.
What is decisive here is to feel the hunger for Jesus. To feel the hunger to experience the encounter with HIM. To open ourselves to HIS truth, his lifestyle, his way of thinking, his attitudes, his heart, so that He carves in each one of us His Spirit and strengthens what is best in us. We must let him enlighten and transform within us those dark areas of our lives, which are not yet “Christianized.”
If we do not feed ourselves with the flesh of Christ, ourselves, of course, but also the Church will remain weak. If we eat the flesh of Christ, we will become the very life of Christ. We are what we eat! If we eat Christ, then we shall become another Christ.
Sunday August 12, 2018
Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time (B)
Gospel Jn 6: 41-51
The Jews murmured about Jesus because he said, “I am the bread that came down from heaven,” and they said, “Is this not Jesus, the son of Joseph? Do we not know his father and mother? Then how can he say, ‘I have come down from heaven’?” Jesus answered and said to them, “Stop murmuring among yourselves. No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draw him, and I will raise him on the last day. It is written in the prophets: They shall all be taught by God. Everyone who listens to my Father and learns from him comes to me. Not that anyone has seen the Father except the one who is from God; he has seen the Father. Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever believes has eternal life. I am the bread of life. Your ancestors ate the manna in the desert, but they died; this is the bread that comes down from heaven so that one may eat it and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world.”
Ebanjelioa Joan 6: 41-51
41 Orduan, marmarka hasi ziren entzuleak, «Neu naiz zerutik jaitsiriko ogia» esan zuelako, 42 eta zioten: –Ez da, bada, hau Jesus, Joseren semea? Ez ditugu, bada, ezagunak honen aita-amak? Nola dio, orain, zerutik jaitsia dela? 43 Jesusek ihardetsi zien: –Ez ari marmarka zeuen artean. 44 Ezin da inor niregana hurbildu, bidali nauen Aitak erakartzen ez badu; eta neuk piztuko dut azken egunean. 45 Honela esaten da profeten liburuan: Jainkoaren ikasle izango dira denak. Aitari entzun eta hark irakatsia bereganatzen duena niregana hurbiltzen da. 46 Horrek ez du esan nahi inork Aita ikusi duenik; Jainkoarengandik etorri denak bakarrik ikusi du Aita. 47 «Bene-benetan diotsuet: Sinesten duenak betiko bizia du. 48 Neu naiz bizia ematen duen ogia. 49 Zuen gurasoek mana jan zuten basamortuan eta, halere, hil egin ziren. 50 Bestelakoa da zerutik jaisten den ogia: beronetatik jaten duena ez da hilko. 51 Neu naiz zerutik jaitsia den ogi bizia; ogi honetatik jaten duenak betiko bizia izango du. Eta nik emanen dudan ogia nire gorputza da, mundua bizi dadin emana».
Jesus’ Attraction Power
The Gospel of John uses repeatedly powerful expressions and images to remind Christian communities that they must go to Jesus if they want to find the source of new life. This encounter with Jesus must become a vital principle and it is not comparable to any other religious experience they may have had before.
Jesus is “bread from heaven,” therefore, He is not to be confused with any other source of life. It is only in Jesus Christ that we are fed with an energy, a light, a hope, a breath of life …, which comes directly from the mystery of God, the Creator of life. And Jesus is “the bread of life.”
This bread from Heaven, Jesus, appears, to many, in such a simplicity and humility that provokes scandal. Who does he think he is? “Is this not Jesus, the son of Joseph? Do we not know his father and mother?” How can we believe in him? He is just one like us!
That is precisely why it is not possible to meet him if we do not first go to the deepest of ourselves, open ourselves to God and “listen to what the Father tells us.” No one can feel real attraction for Jesus, “if we are not attracted by the Father who sent him.”
That which is the most attractive in Jesus is his capacity to give life and give it abundantly. Whoever believes in Jesus Christ and experiences him, encounters a different life, life with new quality, a life that, somehow, already belongs to the world of God. John dares to say, “He who eats this bread will live forever.”
If, each one of us personally and as Christian communities, do not feed from this personal contact with Jesus, we will continue to ignore the most essential and decisive principle of Christianity and will be distracted with having a position in the community, clinging on to personal likes and dislikes, and making trouble. Therefore, nothing is more urgent in our pastoral care of our parishes than to live out existentially our relationship with the person of Jesus Christ. It is not about an ideology or opinion discrepancy: it is about experiencing Jesus who transforms our lives.
If we, as individuals and community, are not attracted by God, who appears incarnated in such a human, close and cordial man, as Jesus of Nazareth was, nothing will be able to get us out from the state of mediocrity and superficiality in which we usually live immersed in our Christian lives. Nothing will encourage us to go that extra mile beyond what is required by our institutions. Nothing will encourage us to go beyond our traditions and devotions. If Jesus does not feed us with his Spirit, we shall remain trapped in the fears of the past, living our religion in a formalistic way.
Sunday August 5, 2018
Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time (B)
Gospel Jn 6: 24-35
When the crowd saw that neither Jesus nor his disciples were there, they themselves got into boats and came to Capernaum looking for Jesus. And when they found him across the sea they said to him, “Rabbi, when did you get here?” Jesus answered them and said, “Amen, amen, I say to you, you are looking for me not because you saw signs but because you ate the loaves and were filled. Do not work for food that perishes but for the food that endures for eternal life,
which the Son of Man will give you. For on him the Father, God, has set his seal.” So they said to him, “What can we do to accomplish the works of God?” Jesus answered and said to them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in the one he sent.” So they said to him, “What sign can you do, that we may see and believe in you? What can you do? Our ancestors ate manna in the desert, as it is written: He gave them bread from heaven to eat.” So Jesus said to them, “Amen, amen, I say to you, it was not Moses who gave the bread from heaven; my Father gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is that which comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” So they said to him, “Sir, give us this bread always.” Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me will never hunger, and whoever believes in me will never thirst.”
Ebanjelioa Joan 6: 24-35
24 Han ez zeudela ez Jesus, ez ikasleak konturatzean, jendea txalupetara igo eta Kafarnaumera joan zen, Jesusen bila. 25 Aintziraz beste aldean aurkitu eta esan zioten: –Maisu, noiz etorri zara hona? 26 Jesusek erantzun zien: –Bene-benetan diotsuet: Nire bila zabiltzate, ez ikusi dituzuen mirarizko seinaleengatik, ogia asetzeraino jan duzuelako baizik. 27 Ahalegin zaitezte, ez galtzen den janariagatik, baizik eta irauten eta betiko bizia ematen duen janariagatik; hori Gizonaren Semeak emango dizue, Jainko Aitak bere aginpidearen ordezkari egin duenak. 28 Orduan, galdetu zioten: –Zer egin behar dugu Jainkoak nahi duena egiteko? 29 Jesusek erantzun zien: –Hauxe da Jainkoak nahi duena: berak bidali duenarengan zuek sinestea. 30 Galdetu zioten, orduan: –Zer seinale ematen diguzu, bada, guk ikusi eta zuri sinesteko? Zer egiten duzu? 31 Gure arbasoek mana jan zuten basamortuan, Liburu Santuak dioen bezala: Zeruko ogia eman zien jaten. 32 Jesusek erantzun zien: –Bene-benetan diotsuet: Ez zizuen Moisesek eman zeruko ogia, baizik eta nire Aitak ematen dizue zeruko egiazko ogia. 33 Zeren Jainkoaren ogia, zerutik jaitsi eta munduari bizia ematen diona da. 34 Orduan, eskatu zioten: –Jauna, emaguzu beti ogi horretatik. 35 Jesusek erantzun zien: –Neu naiz bizia ematen duen ogia; niregana hurbiltzen dena ez da, ez, sekula gose izango, eta niregan sinesten duena ez da behin ere egarri izango.
Jesus Christ is the ONLY Center
People need Jesus and search for him. There is something about him, that attracts them, but still they do not know exactly why they seek him. According to the evangelist, many do so because the day before Jesus distributed bread to satisfy their hunger. People saw in Jesus a genuine leader, efficient and merciful.
Jesus begins to talk to them. There are some things, which must be clear from the beginning. Material bread is very important. He himself has taught them to ask God for “the daily bread” for everyone. However, we must look for something more. Jesus wants to offer them a food that can satisfy for good their deepest and most vital hunger.
People sensed that Jesus was trying to open in front of them a new horizon, but they did not know what to do or from where to begin. The evangelist summarizes their questions with these words: “What can we do to accomplish the works of God?” In them, there is a sincere desire to get it right. They have a true desire to work on what God wants but they used to think everything from the perspective of the Law; they inquire from Jesus what kind of works, or new practices and observances they must perform.
Jesus’s answer touches the heart of Christianity, “This is the work (notice the singular here) of God: that you believe in the one he sent.” God only wants us to believe in Jesus Christ, because he is the great gift God has sent into the world. This is the new and only requirement. In performing this God’s will, they must work. Everything else is secondary.
After twenty centuries of Christianity, we need to rediscover that the full force and originality of the Church rests only in believing in Jesus and follow him in accomplishing his big dream of establishing the Kingdom of God (the rule of God) in our midst. It is an urgent task that we move from an attitude of followers and adepts of a religion of “beliefs” and “practices” to one of living as disciples of Jesus.
Christian faith does not consist primarily in properly fulfilling a code of practices and new observances, superior to those of the Old Testament. Certainly not. Without abandoning these practices, Christian identity derives from learning to live a lifestyle born from experiencing the relationship with and trusting in Jesus Christ. We become Christians in the measure that we learn to think, feel, love, work, suffer and live like Jesus.
To be a Christian today requires an experience of Jesus and to fully identify ourselves with his project of the Kingdom, something, which was not required in past recent years to be a good practitioner. To survive in the midst of our secular society today, Christian communities need to take care, more than ever, of the commitment and vital contact with the person of Jesus Christ and the realization of his message about the Kingdom of God.
Sunday July 29, 2018
Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time (B)
Gospel Jn: 1-15
Jesus went across the Sea of Galilee. A large crowd followed him, because they saw the signs he was performing on the sick. Jesus went up on the mountain, and there he sat down with his disciples. The Jewish feast of Passover was near. When Jesus raised his eyes and saw that a large crowd was coming to him, he said to Philip, “Where can we buy enough food for them to eat?” He said this to test him, because he himself knew what he was going to do. Philip answered him, “Two hundred days’ wages worth of food would not be enough for each of them to have a little.” One of his disciples, Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter, said to him, “There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish; but what good are these for so many?” Jesus said, “Have the people recline.” Now there was a great deal of grass in that place. So the men reclined, about five thousand in number. Then Jesus took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed them to those who were reclining, and also as much of the fish as they wanted. When they had had their fill, he said to his disciples, “Gather the fragments left over, so that nothing will be wasted.” So they collected them, and filled twelve wicker baskets with fragments from the five barley loaves that had been more than they could eat. When the people saw the sign he had done, they said, “This is truly the Prophet, the one who is to come into the world.” Since Jesus knew that they were going to come and carry him off to make him king, he withdrew again to the mountain alone.
Ebanjelioa Joan 6: 1-15
1 Handik aldi batera, Galilea edo Tiberiades aintziraz beste aldera joan zen Jesus. 2 Eta jendetza handia zihoakion atzetik, gaixoak sendatuz egiten zituen mirarizko seinaleak ikusten baitzituzten. 3 Jesus mendira igo eta han eseri zen bere ikasleekin. 4Hurbil zen Pazkoa, juduen jai nagusia. 5 Jesusek, jende asko zetorkiola ikusirik, esan zion Feliperi: –Non erosiko genuke ogia hauei jaten emateko? 6 Zirikatzeko esan zion hori, ongi baitzekien berak zer egin behar zuen. 7 Felipek erantzun zion: –Berrehun denarioren ogia ez litzateke nahikoa bakoitzak puska bat izateko. 8 Haren ikasleetako batek, Simon Pedroren anaia Andresek, esan zion: 9 –Bada hemen bost garagar-ogi eta bi arrain txiki dituen mutiko bat; baina zer da hori honenbesterentzat? 10 Jesusek jendea eserarazteko agindu zien ikasleei. Belar asko zegoen leku hartan, eta eseri egin ziren denak. Bost milaren bat gizonezko ziren. 11 Jesusek ogiak hartu eta, esker oneko otoitza egin ondoren, banatu egin zituen eserita zeudenen artean; berdin arrainak ere, nahi adina. 12 Eta ase zirenean, esan zien Jesusek ikasleei: «Bil itzazue hondarrak, ezer gal ez dadin». 13 Bildu zituzten, bada, eta bost garagar-ogietatik jan zutenei gelditu zitzaizkien hondarrez hamabi saski bete zituzten. 14 Jendeak, orduan, Jesusen mirarizko seinale hura ikusirik, honela zioen: «Hauxe da egiaz mundura etortzekoa zen profeta». 15 Jesusek, ordea, errege egiteko indarrez eraman nahi zutela ikusirik, mendira alde egin zuen berriro berak bakarrik.
In sharing there is Life
The episode of the multiplication of the loaves enjoyed great popularity among the followers of Jesus. All evangelists write about it. Surely, they were moved when thinking about that man of God who was concerned also about feeding a hungry crowd.
According to John’s version, Jesus was the first to think of the hungry crowd that had come to listen to him. These people must eat; something needs to be done for them! So was Jesus. He lived thinking always about the basic needs of fellow human beings.
Philip makes Jesus notice that they have no money. Among the disciples, everyone is poor: they cannot buy enough bread for so many people. Jesus is aware of it. Those with money will never solve the problem of world’s hunger. It takes more than just money. Jesus is determined to help them envision a different way to deal with the problem. First, it is necessary not to hoard his own food (any good for that matter) for oneself if others are hungry or in need. His disciples must learn to make available to the hungry all what they have, even if they only have “five barley loaves and two fish.”
Jesus’ attitude is the simplest and most humane that we can imagine. But who is going to teach us to share, if we only know to buy? Who will free us from our indifference in front of the millions of starving people? Is there anything that can make us be more humane? Is this “miracle” of real solidarity among us all, ever going to take place?
Jesus thinks of God. It is not possible to believe in God as Father of all and live our lives by letting His children and our brothers and sisters starve to death. Therefore, Jesus takes in his hands the food the disciples were able to collect out of the generosity of the people around and “raised his eyes to heaven and says the thanksgiving prayer.” Indeed, the earth and everything that feeds us, we have received from God. It is the gift the heavenly Father intended for all his children. If we live depriving others of what they need for their daily sustenance, it means that we have forgotten the universal destiny of all created things. This is, precisely, our greatest and only sin, which we almost never confess.
As the early Christians shared the Eucharistic bread, they felt fed by the risen Christ, but at the same time, remembered Jesus’ challenging gesture and went on to share their goods with the needy. They believed in being brothers and sisters to each other. They had not yet forgotten the Spirit of Jesus.
Sunday July 22, 2018
Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time (B)
Gospel Mk 6: 30-34
The apostles gathered together with Jesus and reported all they had done and taught.
He said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while.” People were coming and going in great numbers, and they had no opportunity even to eat. So they went off in the boat by themselves to a deserted place. People saw them leaving and many came to know about it. They hastened there on foot from all the towns and arrived at the place before them. When he disembarked and saw the vast crowd, his heart was moved with pity for them, for they were like sheep without a shepherd; and he began to teach them many things.
Ebanjelioa Markos 6: 30-34
30 Apostoluek, berriro Jesusengana bildu zirenean, egin eta irakatsi zuten guztiaren berri eman zioten. 31 Jesusek esan zien: «Zatozte zuek bakarrik leku gorde batera, eta hartu atseden pixka bat». Asko baitziren joan-etorri zebiltzanak, eta ez zuten jateko astirik ere. 32 Orduan, bazter batera joan ziren, beraiek bakarrik, txalupaz. 33 Baina jende askok ikusi zituen alde egiten, eta nora zihoazen igarri ere bai, eta herri guztietatik leku hartara jo zuten lasterka, haiei aurrea hartuz. 34 Txalupatik jaitsi zenean, jendetza handia ikusi zuen Jesusek. Errukitu egin zitzaien, artzain gabeko ardiak bezala baitzebiltzan, eta irakasten hasi zitzaien luze eta zabal.
Jesus’ heart takes pity on the wandering people
The disciples, sent by Jesus to announce his Gospel, return home excited. They are anxious to tell his master what they have done and taught along the way. Jesus is determined to listen to them with calm and invites them to retire “with them to a quiet place to rest a while.”
People spoil their whole plan. From all the villages, people run after until they find them. Now it seems almost impossible to have that quiet meeting Jesus had planned to have alone with his closest disciples. By the time they arrive to the designated place, the crowds had invaded everything and were piling everywhere. How did Jesus react?
Mark describes in detail Jesus’ emotions. Jesus never avoids meeting with people. He stares into the crowds. Jesus knows how to look not only to an individual person, but also to the masses of voiceless, faceless and insignificant people made up of men and women and children. Immediately, feelings of compassion arise from the depth of his heart. He cannot avoid that feeling. “His heart was moved with pity for them.” Jesus carries them all deep inside his heart. He will never abandon them.
He “sees them like sheep without a shepherd:” people without leaders to help them discover the way of the Gospel, or like people without prophets who will announce them the voice of God. Therefore, “he began to teach them, calmly, many things,” taking time to be with them, to feed them with his Words that carry healing power.
I am persuaded that one day many of us “in” the church will be made accountable before Jesus, our one Lord, for the way we look and treat the crowds (those bunch of people) who slowly are abandoning the Church. Many abandon the church perhaps because the Gospel we preach is too doctrinal, or because our speeches and liturgies are more concerned with rituals than substance, our statements, and declarations do not speak any longer to their hearts and minds. Many of these persons are simple and good people and we have disappointed them because they never saw in us the compassion of Jesus. Many of them were believers who did not know where to turn, or what path to follow, to experience the encounter with a more humane and compassionate God. They have not been able to experience that God walks with us. Many Christians keep silent because they know that their opinions will not be considered by any important figure in the community.
I hope that one day the face of this Church will change. The church will learn to act more compassionately; she will forget her own speeches and will turn to listen to the voice of suffering of the people, the immigrants, refugees, the foreigners, the homeless, the jobless, and the like. Only Jesus has the power to transform our hearts and renew our communities.
Sunday July 15, 2018
Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time (B)
Gospel Mk 6: 7-13
Jesus summoned the Twelve and began to send them out two by two and gave them authority over unclean spirits. He instructed them to take nothing for the journey but a walking stick—
no food, no sack, no money in their belts. They were, however, to wear sandals but not a second tunic. He said to them, “Wherever you enter a house, stay there until you leave. Whatever place does not welcome you or listen to you, leave there and shake the dust off your feet in testimony against them.” So they went off and preached repentance. The Twelve drove out many demons, and they anointed with oil many who were sick and cured them.
Ebanjelioa Markos 6: 7-13
7 Jesusek hamabiei dei egin eta binaka bidaltzen hasi zen, espiritu gaiztoak botatzeko ahalmena ematen ziela. 8 Biderako deus ere ez hartzeko agindu zien, makila bat besterik: ez ogirik, ez zakutorik, ezta gerrikoan dirurik ere; 9 oinetan sandaliak eraman zitzatela, baina aldatzeko soinekorik ez. 10 Gero, nola jokatu esan zien: «Etxe batean sartzen zaretenean, gelditu bertan herri hartatik atera arte. 11 Eta nonbait onartzen ez bazaituztete eta entzun nahi ez, handik alde egitean, astindu zeuen oinetako hautsa, beraien kontrako seinaletzat». 12 Joan ziren, bada, haiek eta berri ona hots egin zuten bihozberri zitezen. 13 Deabru asko botatzen zuten eta gaixo asko sendatzen, olioz igurtziz.
Mission demands a coherent life-style
Jesus did not send his disciples in a careless way. To collaborate on the great project of the kingdom of God and to extend Jesus’ mission, it is necessary to take an especial care for one’s lifestyle. Without a coherent lifestyle, one may be able to accomplish many things, but will not be able to introduce the spirit of Jesus into the world. Mark highlights some recommendations of Jesus.
First, who are they to act in Jesus’s name? What is their authority or where does it come from? According to Mark, by sending them out, Jesus “gives them authority over unclean spirits.” Jesus did not give them power over people they were going to meet along the way. Nor did Jesus use his power to rule, control, impose, or dictate upon people, but only to heal, restore, give life, and give it abundantly. As always, Jesus is thinking of a healthier world, freed from evil forces, which enslave and dehumanize people. His disciples are to introduce among the nations Jesus’ saving power. Discreetly they are to enter the society, not using power to master over people, but by humanizing life, alleviating the suffering of the people, by increasing freedom and fraternity.
Second, they are to take only a “walking stick” and “sandals.” These were the signs of pilgrims. Jesus sees them as pilgrims. Not bound to people or to properties. They are to carry only that which is necessary. As agile as Jesus who could show up immediately and anywhere, wherever someone needed him. The staff of Jesus is not the symbol to rule on, but to walk with the people.
Third, they are to carry “no bread, no bag, and no money.” They must not live obsessed with their own security. They carry with them something, which is more important: The Spirit of Jesus, His Word and His authority to humanize the lives of the people. Interestingly, Jesus is not thinking about what they should bring along to be effective, but about what they must not carry, so that they do not fall into the temptation of forgetting the poor and end up living enclosed in their own comfort.
Fourth, they are not to carry even a “second tunic.” They are to dress as simple and as casual as the poor do. They shall not put on holy garments as the Temple priests do. They are not to dress even as the Baptist did in the wilderness. They are to be prophets among the people. Their personal lifestyle must be the sign of God’s closeness to all, especially the neediest.
Shall we dare someday to make within the Church a collective exam of conscience to let ourselves be enlightened by Jesus and come to realize how much we have moved, almost without realizing it, away from HIS Spirit?
Sunday July 8, 2018
Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time (B)
Gospel Mk 6: 1-6
Jesus departed from there and came to his native place, accompanied by his disciples. When the sabbath came he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were astonished.
They said, “Where did this man get all this? What kind of wisdom has been given him? What mighty deeds are wrought by his hands! Is he not the carpenter, the son of Mary, and the brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon? And are not his sisters here with us?”
And they took offense at him. Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his native place and among his own kin and in his own house.” So he was not able to perform any mighty deeds there, apart from curing a few sick people by laying his hands on them. He was amazed at their lack of faith.
Ebanjelioa Markos 6: 1-6
1 Handik alde egin eta bere herrira joan zen Jesus, bere ikasleak ondoren zituela. 2 Hurrengo larunbatean, sinagogan irakasten hasi zen. Entzule askok honela zioen harriturik: «Nondik honek hori guztia? Zer da eman zaion jakinduria hori? Eta honen eskuz gertatzen diren mirari horiek? 3 Ez al da, bada, arotza, Mariaren semea eta Santiago, Jose, Judas eta Simonen anaia? Eta honen arrebak ere ez ote dira hemen gure artean bizi?» Eta honengatik, ezin zuten sinetsi harengan. 4 Jesusek esan zien: «Profeta bati edonon ematen zaio ohore, bere herri, senitarte eta etxean izan ezik». 5 Eta ezin izan zuen han miraririk egin; hala ere, gaixo bakar batzuk sendatu zituen eskuak ezarriz. 6 Eta harriturik zegoen haien sinesmenik ezaz.
Prophets Unsettle Us
Today’s Gospel story is a surprising one. Jesus was rejected precisely by its own people, among those who thought knew him better than anyone else. Jesus arrives in Nazareth, with his disciples, and nobody comes to meet him, as sometimes happens elsewhere. Patients of the village were also not brought to him for healing.
His presence awakens in them only a kind of strange wonder. They do not know who taught him such a message so full of wisdom and common sense. Nor they can explain from where his healing power comes. All they know is that Jesus was supposed to be a worker born in a family from their village. Everything else beyond that, the villagers “find to be scandalous.”
Jesus feels “despised and rejected:” his own people did not accept him as the bearer of God’s message of salvation. They had made up an idea about “their” neighbor Jesus and refused to open to the mystery that lied in him. The tree does not let them see the forest. Jesus reminds them of a saying that probably all knew: “A prophet is not without honor except in his native place and among his own kin and in his own house.”
Jesus is surprised at his lack of faith. “It is the first time he experiences a collective rejection, not from religious leaders but from all the people in his own village.” No one expected such a rejection from his own people. Their disbelief even blocks Jesus’ capacity to heal: “he was not able to perform any mighty deeds there, apart from curing a few sick people by laying his hands on them.”
Mark does not tell this episode just to satisfy the curiosity of his readers, but to warn Christian communities that Jesus can be rejected even today precisely by those who think they know him best: those who withdraw into their own preconceived ideas and prejudices without opening themselves to the novelty of his message or the mystery of his person. These are Christians who do dare to call Jesus (and Pope Francis) a commie, a heretic.
Let us reflect upon the following questions:
- How do we, who call ourselves to be “his,” welcome Jesus?
- Amid a world that has become adult, is not our faith often too childish and superficial?
- Do not we live too indifferent to the revolutionary novelty of his message?
- Is it not strange our lack of faith in his transforming power?
- Don’t we run the risk of suffocating his Spirit by neglecting his prophetic ministry?
- This was the concern of Paul of Tarsus: “Do not quench the Spirit, do not despise the gift of prophecy. Discern everything and retain only what is good “(1 Thessalonians 5.19-21).
Sunday July 1, 2018
Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time (B)
Gospel Mk 5: 21-43
When Jesus had crossed again in the boat to the other side, a large crowd gathered around him, and he stayed close to the sea. One of the synagogue officials, named Jairus, came forward. Seeing him he fell at his feet and pleaded earnestly with him, saying, “My daughter is at the point of death. Please, come lay your hands on her that she may get well and live.” He went off with him, and a large crowd followed him and pressed upon him. There was a woman afflicted with hemorrhages for twelve years. She had suffered greatly at the hands of many doctors and had spent all that she had. Yet she was not helped but only grew worse. She had heard about Jesus and came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak. She said, “If I but touch his clothes, I shall be cured.” Immediately her flow of blood dried up. She felt in her body that she was healed of her affliction. Jesus, aware at once that power had gone out from him, turned around in the crowd and asked, “Who has touched my clothes?” But his disciples said to Jesus,
“You see how the crowd is pressing upon you, and yet you ask, ‘Who touched me?’” And he looked around to see who had done it. The woman, realizing what had happened to her, approached in fear and trembling. She fell down before Jesus and told him the whole truth. He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has saved you. Go in peace and be cured of your affliction.”
While he was still speaking, people from the synagogue official’s house arrived and said,
“Your daughter has died; why trouble the teacher any longer?” Disregarding the message that was reported, Jesus said to the synagogue official, “Do not be afraid; just have faith.” He did not allow anyone to accompany him inside except Peter, James, and John, the brother of James. When they arrived at the house of the synagogue official, he caught sight of a commotion, people weeping and wailing loudly. So he went in and said to them, “Why this commotion and weeping?
The child is not dead but asleep.” And they ridiculed him. Then he put them all out. He took along the child’s father and mother and those who were with him and entered the room where the child was. He took the child by the hand and said to her, “Talitha koum,” which means, “Little girl, I say to you, arise!” The girl, a child of twelve, arose immediately and walked around.
At that they were utterly astounded. He gave strict orders that no one should know this and said that she should be given something to eat.
Ebanjelioa Markos 5: 21-43
21 Jesus aintziraren beste bazterrera itzuli zenean, jende-talde handia bildu zitzaion ondora. Oraindik aintzira ondoan zegoela, 22 sinagogako buruzagietako bat etorri zen, Jairo zeritzana; Jesus ikustean, honen oinetan ahuspezturik, 23 otoi eta arren eskatzen zion: «Alaba hilzorian dut; zatoz hari eskuak ezartzera, senda dadin eta bizi». 24 Harekin abiatu zen Jesus. Jende asko zihoakion ondoren, estuka eta bultzaka. 25 Bazen han emakume bat, hamabi urte hartan odoljarioz zegoena. 26 Hamaika sendagileren eskutan jasatekoak jasana zen, eta bere ondasun guztiak ere horretan emanak zituen; baina sendatu beharrean, gero eta okerrago zihoan. 27 Jesusi buruz esaten zena entzunik, jendartean atzetik joan eta jantzia ukitu zion. 28 Honela baitzioen berekiko: «Jantzia bederen ukitzen badiot, sendatuko naiz». 29 Une berean odoljarioa gelditu egin zitzaion, eta gaitza sendatua zuela sumatu zuen bere gorputzean. 30 Berehala antzeman zion Jesusek bere baitatik halako indar bat atera zitzaiola eta, jendartean itzulirik, galdetu zuen: –Nork ukitu dit jantzia? 31 Bere ikasleek erantzun zioten: –Hainbeste jendek estutzen zaituela ikusi eta nork ukitu zaituen galdetzen duzu? 32 Baina Jesus ingurura begira zegoen, nork egin ote zion hori. 33 Orduan, emakumeak, beldurrez dar-dar –ondo baitzekien zer gertatu zitzaion–, oinetara erori eta egia osoa aitortu zion. 34 Jesus honela mintzatu zitzaion: «Ene alaba, zeure sinesmenak sendatu zaitu; zoaz bakean, eta sendatua bekizu gaitza». 35 Oraindik hizketan ari zela, sinagogako buruzagiaren etxetik etorri ziren, esatera: «Hil zaizu alaba. Zertarako eman neke gehiago Maisuari?» 36 Baina Jesusek, hitz hauei kasurik egin gabe, sinagogako buruzagiari esan zion: «Ez izan beldurrik; zuk sinetsi». 37 Ez zion inori ere berarekin joaten utzi, Pedro, Santiago eta honen anaia Joani izan ezik. 38 Sinagogako buruzagiaren etxera heltzean, ikusi zuen Jesusek hango istilua, jendea negarrez eta garrasika. 39 Sartu eta esan zien: «Zer dela-eta horrenbeste istilu eta negar? Neskatxa ez dago hilda, lo dago». 40 Haiek barre egiten zioten. Baina Jesusek guztiak kanpora bidali zituen eta, neskaren aita-amak eta berarekin etorriak harturik, neska zegoen tokira sartu zen. 41 Eskutik heldu eta esan zion: «Talitha kum» (hau da: «Neskatxa, zuri diotsut: Jaiki zaitez»). 42 Berehala zutitu eta ibiltzen hasi zen, hamabi urte bazituen eta. Jende guztia harri eta zur gelditu zen. 43 Jesusek zorrotz agindu zien inork ere ez zezala jakin. Eta neskatxari jaten emateko esan zien.
We do not know her name. She is a tiny woman, lost in the crowd that follows Jesus. She dares not to speak with Jesus as Jairus, the chief of a synagogue, who succeeded in bringing Jesus directly to his house. She would have never been so lucky! Nobody knows she is a woman stigmatized by a secret disease.
The scribes have taught her that, if she suffers loss of blood, she should consider herself as an “impure” woman. The Gospel tells us that she spent many years looking for healing, but no one managed to heal her despite having spent a fortune in the process. She wonders about where she could find a way to restore her health and thus, be able to live with dignity.
Many people live among us with similar experiences. Humiliated by secret wounds that nobody knows, without the strength to confide with someone their “illness,” with nowhere to go to seeking help, comfort and peace and not knowing if they will ever find a solution to their anguish. Many such people feel guilty, when often they are victims.
Many good people feel unworthy to approach to receive Christ in communion. There are many pious Christians, who have lived a long life of suffering, in an unhealthy way, because they were taught to consider themselves as dirty and sinful when they did something related to the sixth commandment. Many believers do not know how to break the chain of supposedly sacrilegious confessions and communions… Many Christians could never find peace in their hearts.
According to the story, the sick woman, “has heard people speaking about Jesus” and senses that she stands before someone who can eradicate her “impurity” from both her body and her whole life. Jesus does not speak of dignity or indignity, purity or impurity. His message speaks of love and healing. His whole person radiates a healing power.
The woman finds her own way to meet Jesus. She does not feel with enough courage to look into HIS eyes: she approaches HIM from behind. She feels ashamed to talk to him about her illness, that is why she decides to act quietly. She was not allowed to touch Him physically, that is why she will only touch the mantle. Never mind. Nothing matters. To be cleansed, it is enough to have a big faith and trust in Jesus. Jesus himself confirms and accepts this women’s confession of faith. She must not feel embarrassed in front of anyone. What she has done is not bad. It is an act of faith.
Jesus continues with his way healing all the secret wounds of people. Moreover, to all who trust in Him, Jesus has these words to say “My son, my daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be healthy.”
Sunday June 24, 2018
The Nativity of Saint John The Baptist
[12th Sunday in Ordinary Time (B)]
Gospel Lk 1: 57-66
“When it was time for Elizabeth to have her baby, she gave birth to a son. Her neighbors and relatives heard that the Lord had shown her great mercy, and they shared her joy. On the eighth day they came to circumcise the child, and they were going to name him after his father Zechariah, but his mother spoke up and said, ‘No! He is to be called John.’ They said to her, ‘There is no-one among your relatives who has that name.’ Then they made signs to his father, to find out what he would like to name the child. He asked for a writing tablet, and to everyone’s astonishment he wrote, ‘His name is John.’ Immediately his mouth was opened and his tongue was loosed, and he began to speak, praising God. The neighbors were all filled with awe, and throughout the hill country of Judea people were talking about all these things. Everyone who heard this wondered about it, asking, ‘What then is this child going to be?’ For the Lord’s hand was with him.”
Ebanjelioa Lukas 1: 57-66
57 Denbora bete zitzaionean, Elisabetek semea izan zuen. 58 Jakin zuten auzokoek eta ahaideek zein erruki handia izan zion Jaunak, eta harekin batean poztu ziren. 59 Jaio eta zortzi egunera, haurra erdaintzera joan ziren, eta aitaren izena ipini nahi zioten, Zakarias. 60 Baina amak esan zuen: –Ez, Joan izango du izena. 61 Esan zioten: –Ez duzu senitartean inor izen horretakorik. 62 Orduan, aitari galdetu zioten keinuka, ea zein izen nahi zion jarri. 63 Hark oholtxo bat eskatu zuen eta bertan idatzi: «Joan du izena». Denak harriturik gelditu ziren. 64 Bat-batean, mihia askatu zitzaion Zakariasi, eta berriro hitz egiten eta Jainkoa goresten hasi zen. 65 Auzoko guztiak beldurrak hartu zituen, eta Judeako mendialde guztian zabaldu zen gertatuaren berri. 66 Entzuten zuten guztiek beren baitarako esaten zuten: «Zer izango ote da ume hau?» Zeren Jauna lagun baitzuen.
He must increase; I must decrease
This year’s liturgical calendar offers us the possibility of celebrating this Sunday the feast of John the Baptist, that Jewish prophet who announced the coming of the Lord, and who prepared the way of the Lord.
Since early times, the Church has especially venerated the figure of John and Christians all over the world have understood his relevance (above all, by choosing the name John as baptismal name, as well as a patron Saint in many parish churches and convents). Let us try to understand its exemplary figure and at the same time capture what he may mean to us, and to our time.
The story of Jesus would be incomprehensible if we ignore the way of the Lord he prepared, and the whole history of the Jewish people. In the very life of Jesus two people occupy a preeminent place: a simple woman of a small town called Mary and this nonconformist prophet named John. Without the fidelity to their mission of these two people and without their generous “yes” to God’s mysterious design for humanity, we could have never imagined the Incarnation of God in human history.
John prepares the way of the Lord. He reveals the heart of the faithful Jewish who awaited the coming of the Messiah, but too domesticated and fitting only his political dreams. John totally discarded those superficial dreams and with radical demands went to the heart of the matter, focusing his attention on the root of what needs to be done: metanoia, personal transformation, social transformation and justice, to discover, listen and to obey the Word of God who becomes man in Jesus Christ.
It is here where lies the greatness of John the Baptist: the integrity of his life style, the fidelity to God, and the total commitment to the Lord whose shoes he felt unworthy to untie. He was ready to die to defend his faith and his integrity.
The feast of Saint John the Baptists coincides also with the summer solstice. The day begins to shorten and the night to grow. The words in the Gospel of John attest to this natural event, which opens the road map to the follower of Jesus, which the Baptiste made his vocation, “He must increase, but I must decrease.” (Jn 3: 30).
Sunday June 17, 2018
Eleventh Sunday in Ordinary Time (B)
Gospel Mk 4: 26-34
Jesus said to the crowds: “This is how it is with the kingdom of God; it is as if a man were to scatter seed on the land and would sleep and rise night and day and through it all the seed would sprout and grow, he knows not how. Of its own accord, the land yields fruit, first the blade, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear. And when the grain is ripe, he wields the sickle at once, for the harvest has come.” He said, “To what shall we compare the kingdom of God, or what parable can we use for it? It is like a mustard seed that, when it is sown in the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on the earth. But once it is sown, it springs up and becomes the largest of plants and puts forth large branches, so that the birds of the sky can dwell in its shade.” With many such parables, he spoke the word to them, as they were able to understand it. Without parables, he did not speak to them, but to his own disciples he explained everything in private.
Ebanjelioa Markos 4: 26-34
26 Jesusek esan zuen: «Jainkoaren erregetza gizonak lurrean hazia ereitean gertatu ohi denaren antzeko da: 27 hura lo nahiz iratzarririk egon, gau eta egun, hazia erne eta hazi egiten da, hark nola ez dakiela. 28 Lurrak berez ematen du: lehenbizi landarea, ondoren galburua, azkenik alea galburua betean. 29 Eta garia heltzean, igitaiaz ekiten zaio, uztaroa da eta». 30 Beste hau ere esan zien: «Zeren antzeko dela esango genuke Jainkoaren erregetza? Zein parabolaren bidez adieraz genezake? 31 Mostaza-haziaren antzekoa da: lurrean ereitean, hazi guztietan txikiena da; 32 erein eta gero, ordea, gora egiten du eta beste barazki guztiak baino handiagoa egiten; eta txoriek habia egiten dute haren itzalpean, hainbestekoak baitira ematen dituen adarrak».33 Horrelako parabola askoren bidez, Jesusek mezua iragartzen zien, beraiek ulertzeko eran. 34 Ez zien ezer irakasten parabola bidez izan ezik; baina bere ikasleei, bakarrean, guztien esanahia adierazten zien.
A great achievement begins with a small step
We live surrounded by bad news. Radio and television, news and stories that unload on us a flood of news of disqualification of the other, hatred, war, hunger, and violence, all sorts of corruption and scandals, large and small. The “sellers of sensationalism” do not seem to find anything else remarkable on our planet to talk about.
The incredible speed with which the news and world problems spread, leave us stunned and bewildered. What can we do to soften so much suffering? We are better informed about the evil that plagues the humanity, and yet we feel powerless to deal with it.
Science wants us to convince that all problems can be solved with more technological gadgets. Thus, science has thrown us all into a gigantic social organizational stage and tends to rationalize life. However, this organized power is no longer in the hands of the people but on the hands of powerful structures and vested interests of a few. Our societies are not governed by democracies and the peoples we vote for, but for invisible and uncontrollable powers beyond the reach of every individual.
As a result, the temptation is great to inhibit us from our duties and obligations. What can I do to improve the life of this society? Not few tend to believe that it is up to the politicians and religious leaders the responsibility to promote the changes needed to move towards a more humane and dignified coexistence. Nevertheless, we cannot trust our politicians nor our religious leaders.
In today’s Gospel, there is a call addressed to all of us, and it is about to plant small seeds of a new humanity. Jesus does not speak of achieving great things. The kingdom of God is something very humble and modest in its origins. Something that can go unnoticed like the smallest seed but destined to grow and bear fruit in unexpected ways.
Perhaps we need to learn again to appreciate the little things and small gestures. We may not be called to be heroes or martyrs every day, but we all are invited to live out our lives by placing some human dignity in every corner of our little world. A friendly gesture to the one living sad and worried; a welcoming smile to someone who is alone; just one sign of closeness to someone who begins to despair; a ray of small joy to someone who is heavy hearted; all these certainly are not great things. They are small seeds of the kingdom of God that we all can plant in this difficult and sad society, which seems to have forgotten the charm of the simple and good things.
Sunday June 10, 2018
Ninth Week in Ordinary time (B)
Gospel Mk 3: 30-35
He came home. Again [the] crowd gathered, making it impossible for them even to eat. When his relatives heard of this they set out to seize him, for they said, “He is out of his mind.” The scribes who had come from Jerusalem said, “He is possessed by Beelzebul,” and “By the prince of demons he drives out demons.” Jesus and Beelzebul. Summoning them, he began to speak to them in parables, “How can Satan drive out Satan? If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. And if a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand. And if Satan has risen up against himself and is divided, he cannot stand; that is the end of him. But no one can enter a strong man’s house to plunder his property unless he first ties up the strong man. Then he can plunder his house. Amen, I say to you, all sins and all blasphemies that people utter will be forgiven them. But whoever blasphemes against the holy Spirit* will never have forgiveness, but is guilty of an everlasting sin.” For they had said, “He has an unclean spirit.” His mother and his brothers arrived. Standing outside they sent word to him and called him. A crowd seated around him told him, “Your mother and your brothers [and your sisters] are outside asking for you.” But he said to them in reply, “Who are my mother and [my] brothers?” And looking around at those seated in the circle he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers. [For] whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.”
Ebanjelioa Markos 3: 30-35
20 Jesus etxera itzuli zen. Berriro ere jendetza handia bildu zen, eta ezin zuten otordurik ere egin Jesusek eta ikasleek. 21 Jesusen senitartekoak, jakin zutenean, hartu eta eramateko asmotan etorri ziren, burutik egina zegoela uste baitzuten. 22 Jerusalemdik jaitsitako lege-maisuek, berriz, zera zioten: «Beeltzebul dauka honek barruan», eta «Deabruen buruzagiaren indarrez botatzen ditu deabruak». 23 Etorrarazi zituen Jesusek, eta parabola hauen bidez mintzatu zitzaien: «Nola dezake Satanasek Satanas bota? 24 Bere baitan zatiturik dagoen erreinuak ezin du iraun. 25 Bere baitan zatiturik dagoen familiak ezin du iraun. 26 Era berean Satanasek ere, bere buruaren aurka jaiki eta zatiturik badago, ezin du iraun; harenak egin du. 27 Ez daiteke inor indartsu baten etxera lapurretara joan, aldez aurretik hura lotzen ez badu; orduan bai, harrapa ditzake haren etxeko ondasunak. 28 Benetan diotsuet: Dena barkatuko die Jainkoak gizakiei, bekatuak eta egin litzaketen birao guztiak; 29 baina Espiritu Santuaren kontra birao egiten duenak ez du inoiz barkamenik izango: errudun izango da betiko». 30 Espiritu gaiztoa zeukala ziotenei erantzun zien hau. 31 Jesusen ama eta anai-arrebak iritsi ziren. Kanpoan gelditurik, deiarazi egin zuten. 32 Jende asko zegoen haren inguruan eserita, eta esan zioten: –Adizu, ama eta anai-arrebak kanpoan dituzu zeure bila. 33 Hark erantzun: –Nor dira nire ama eta nire anai-arrebak? 34 Eta, inguruan eserita zituenei begiratuz, esan zuen: –Hauek ditut nik ama eta anai-arreba. 35 Jainkoaren nahia egiten duena, horixe dut nik anaia, arreba eta ama.
The Healing Power of the Spirit
Contemporary people seem getting used to living without answering one of the most vital question of life: why and for what to live. It is a very grave situation. When a person loses all contact with his/her own interiority and mystery, then life falls into triviality and nonsense. Live becomes meaningless.
As a result, one lives on impressions, on the surface of things and events, developing only an appearance of life. Probably, this trivialization of life is one of the most important root causes of unbelief among not few of our contemporary people.
When we live without the inner energy and spirituality we easily lose respect for life, for people, the nature and things around us. But, more serious still, we render incapable of “listening” to the mystery, which lies in the deepest spheres of existence.
Many people today resist depth, nuancing, transcending what meets the eye. Many are not willing to take care of inner life. This brings a sense of dissatisfaction and unhappiness: many may sense the need of something daily life does not provide. And yet, that dissatisfaction may be the beginning of salvation. Dissatisfaction can mean the beginning of healing.
The great Polish theologian Paul Tillich (1886-1965) said that only the Spirit can help us to rediscover “the path of the deep.” On the contrary, to sin against that Holy Spirit that brings life, would be like having to “bear our own sin forever.” That is hell precisely. It is the Spirit that can awaken in each one of us the desire to strive for something more noble, higher and better than the triviality of each day. The Spirit can give us the audacity necessary to initiate an interior work in us.
The Spirit can bring forth a different joy in our hearts; it can vivify our aging lives; it can ignite love in us even towards those for whom we do not feel the least interest today.
The Spirit is “a force that acts in us and yet is not ours.” It is the same God inspiring and transforming our lives. No one can say that he/she is not inhabited by that Spirit. The important thing is not to extinguish it, to fan its fire, to make it burn, purifying and renewing our life. Perhaps, we must begin by invoking God with the psalmist: “Do not turn away your Spirit from me.”
Sunday June 3, 2018
The Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ (Corpus Christi)
Gospel Mk 14: 12-16; 22-26
On the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, when they sacrificed the Passover lamb, Jesus’ disciples said to him, “Where do you want us to go and prepare for you to eat the Passover?” He sent two of his disciples and said to them, “Go into the city and a man will meet you, carrying a jar of water. Follow him. Wherever he enters, say to the master of the house, ‘The Teacher says, “Where is my guest room where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?”‘ Then he will show you a large upper room furnished and ready. Make the preparations for us there.” The disciples then went off, entered the city, and found it just as he had told them; and they prepared the Passover. While they were eating, he took bread, said the blessing, broke it, gave it to them, and said, “Take it; this is my body.” Then he took a cup, gave thanks, and gave it to them, and they all drank from it. He said to them, “This is my blood of the covenant, which will be shed for many. Amen, I say to you, I shall not drink again the fruit of the vine until the day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God.” Then, after singing a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.
Ebanjelioa Markos 14: 12-16; 22-26
12 Legamia gabeko Ogien Jaiko lehen eguna zen, Pazko-bildotsa hiltzen zeneko eguna. Ikasleek esan zioten Jesusi: –Non egin behar ditugu Pazko-afarirako prestaketak? 13 Hark ikasleetako bi bidali zituen, esanez: –Zoazte hirira, eta ur-suila daraman gizon batekin egingo duzue topo. Jarraitu berari, 14 eta sartuko den etxeko nagusiari esan: «Maisuak galdetzen du non duen ikasleekin Pazko-bildotsa jateko tokia». 15 Berak gela zabal bat erakutsiko dizue goian, jantzirik eta atondua; prestatu hantxe behar ditugunak. 16 Joan ziren ikasleak eta, hirira iristean, dena Jesusek esan bezala gertatu zitzaien, eta Pazko-afaria prestatu zuten. 22 Afaltzen ari zirela, ogia hartu zuen Jesusek eta, bedeinkazioa esan ondoren, zatitu eta eman egin zien, esanez: «Hartzazue, hau nire gorputza da». 23 Gero, kopa hartu eta, esker oneko otoitza egin ondoren, eman egin zien eta denek edan zuten. 24 Eta esan zien: «Hau nire odola da, Jainkoarekiko ituna berrituko duena, guztiengatik isuria. 25 Benetan diotsuet: Ez dut gehiago ardorik edango, Jainkoaren erreinuan ardo berria edan arte». 26 Gorazarreak kantatu ondoren, Oliamendira abiatu ziren.
AN UNFORGETTABLE FAREWELL
To Celebrate the Eucharist, is to revive the Last Supper Jesus celebrated with his disciples the night before his execution. No theological explanation, no liturgical planning, no interested devotion is to take us away from the original intention of Jesus.
How did Jesus design that last supper? What was it, which Jesus wanted to leave forever carved in the hearts of his disciples? Why and for what purpose should the disciples continue to remember, again and again, that unforgettable farewell?
First, Jesus wanted to transmit his indestructible hope in God’s kingdom. His death was imminent; that dinner was to be the last. Nevertheless, he promised them that, one day, he was to sit at the table with them, with a new drink in his hands, in order to drink a “new wine” with them. Nothing and nobody can prevent this final banquet of the Father with their children from taking place. Thus, to celebrate the Eucharist is to rekindle that hope: we must, already from now on, enjoy the feast that awaits us together with Jesus in the Kingdom of the Father.
Secondly, Jesus wanted, also, to prepare them for that final blow of his execution. They were not to sink into sadness. Death cannot break the friendship that unites them. The communion between them will never be broken. Every time they celebrate the memory of that last supper, Jesus’ presence and his spirit will be with them. For this reason, every time we celebrate the memory of the last supper, we pledge our adherence to Jesus, we promise Him that we shall continue with his mission, and that we shall remain united to his wonderful dream of the Kingdom of God.
Through this action, Jesus wanted his people never to forget what his life had been: a total surrender to God’s plan. Jesus insisted this to them while distributing a piece of bread to each one of them: “This is my body; please do remember me this way: how I handed over all my life for you, till the end, so that you would merit receiving God’s abundant blessing.” To celebrate the Eucharist is to communicate with Jesus to live, every day in a more committed way, for the building of a more humane world. Jesus wanted his disciples should feel to be members of one single community.
The disciples must have been surprised to see what Jesus did at the end of the dinner. Instead of each one drinking from his own cup, as it was customary, Jesus invited everyone to drink from the one single glass: HIS! All shared the “cup of salvation” blessed by Jesus Himself. With this gesture, Jesus wished to express something new: “This is the new covenant in my blood.” Every time we celebrate the Eucharist, we are aware of the especial bond, which unites us among ourselves and with Jesus.
Sunday May 27, 2018
The Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity (B)
(Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time)
Gospel Mt 28: 16-20
The eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had ordered them. When they all saw him, they worshiped, but they doubted. Then Jesus approached and said to them, “All power in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.”
Ebanjelioa Mateo 28: 16-20
16 Hamaika ikasleak Galileara joan ziren, Jesusek esandako mendira. 17 Ikusi zutenean, gurtu egin zuten; batzuk, ordea, zalantzan zeuden. 18 Jesus, hurbildurik, honela mintzatu zitzaien: «Ahalmen osoa eman dit Jainkoak zeru-lurretan. 19 Zoazte, bada, eta egin herri guztiak nire ikasle, Aitaren eta Semearen eta Espiritu Santuaren izenean bataiatuz 20 eta nik agindu dizuedan guztia betetzen irakatsiz. Eta ni zeuekin izango nauzue egunero munduaren azkena arte».
God is Love
For twenty centuries of Christianity, theologians have written many and long treatises about the Trinity, trying to think conceptually the mystery of God. However, they themselves have arrived at the conclusion that, in order to know God, what matters is not to “reason” much but to “know” something about love: to have experienced love in its fullness.
The reason is quite simple. Christian theology comes to say, in short, that God is love. God is not someone narcissistic, cold and impersonal Being, who is sad and lonely. We must not imagine HIM as some Being with impenetrable power and self-enclosed. In HIS innermost Being, God is love, shared life, joyful friendship, plain dialogue, mutual gift, a hug; God is a communion of persons, a perfect family.
The most admirable reality is that we are (each one of us) made in the image of this very God. The human being is a sort of “miniature” of God. It is easy to fancy this reality. Whenever we feel the need to love and to be loved…, whenever we know how to welcome others and seek to be welcomed by others…, whenever we enjoy sharing a friendship that makes us grow…, whenever we give and receive life, and give and receive it abundantly…, then we are savoring the “Trinitarian love” of God. The love that flows in us comes right from Him.
Therefore, the best way for us to approach the mystery of God is not through books about Him, but through the many love experiences, which all throughout our lives, we are able to give and receive. When two young people kiss each other in true and perfect love…, when two spouses love each other to create new life…, when anyone, forgetting about himself or herself, give up their lives so others can have it, and have it fully…, then, all of these are living experiences, clumsy and imperfect as these may be, pointing to God’s love and perfect self-donation.
The one who knows nothing about giving and receiving love…, who cannot share or dialogue…, who only listens to himself…, who is closed to all friendship…, who seeks only his/her own interests…, who only knows how to make money, compete and win…, what does such a person know about God and love?
Trinitarian love of God is not an exclusive and discarding love, a “selfish love” between three Persons. Rather, it is a love relationship, which spreads out, and gives to all creatures so that all can have life and have it abundantly.
That is why, the one who lives to love like God or knows how to give without expecting to be reciprocated, is someone capable of “falling in love” with the poor and the smaller and is capable of donating his/her own life in order to build a more friendly, dignified and humane world.
Sunday May 20, 2018
Gospel Jn 20: 19-23
On the evening of that first day of the week, when the doors were locked, where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in their midst and said to them, “Peace be with you.” When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. The disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained.”
Ebanjelioa Joan 20: 19-23
19 Asteko lehen egun hartan bertan, arratsean, ikasleak etxe batean bildurik zeuden; judu-agintarien beldurrez, ateak itxirik zeuzkaten. Sartu zen Jesus eta, erdian jarririk, agurtu zituen esanez: «Bakea zuei». 20 Gero, eskuak eta saihetsa erakutsi zizkien. Pozez bete ziren ikasleak Jauna ikustean. 21 Jesusek berriro esan zien: «Bakea zuei. Aitak ni bidali nauen bezala, nik zuek bidaltzen zaituztet». 22 Eta haien gainera arnasa botaz, esan zien: «Hartzazue Espiritu Santua. 23 Zuek bekatuak barkatzen dizkiezuenei barkatu egingo dizkie Jainkoak ere; zuek barkamena ukatzen diezuenei, ukatu egingo die».
We are clay, inhabited by the Spirit of Jesus
John has worked, with exquisite detail, the Gospel scene in which Jesus entrusts his mission to his disciples. Jesus wants to make clear what the essential is.
First, Jesus is at the center of the community, filling them all with peace and joy.
Second, Jesus entrusts his disciples with a mission: they were called not to enjoy Jesus all by themselves, but to announce Him to the entire world and make Him present in the here and now of human history.
Third, Jesus “sends” them out. Jesus does not tell them specifically to whom they are to go, or what to do or how they should act: “As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” Their mission is the same as that of Jesus. They receive no other task: the mission Jesus received from the Father, that same mission is been entrusted to the disciples. They must be in the world in which Jesus has been. They have seen whom Jesus approached, how Jesus treated the most helpless, how Jesus carried out his project of humanizing life, how Jesus sowed gestures of liberation and forgiveness. The wounds in his hands and his side remind them of Jesus’ total commitment to the wounded people. Jesus now sends them to ‘reproduce’ His presence among the wounded people of the world.
However, Jesus knows that his disciples are fragile. More than once, Jesus was amazed about their “little faith.” They are going to need His Own Spirit to accomplish their mission. Therefore, Jesus makes with them a very special gesture. Jesus does not lay his hands upon them and blesses them, as he used to do with the sick and the children. He “breathes on them while pronouncing: Receive the Holy Spirit.”
Jesus’ gesture is a powerful one, which we not always know how to understand. According to biblical tradition, God formed Adam with “mud” and then he blew on him His “breath of life” and, then, that mud became a “living being.” That is what the human being is: a little mud breathed by the Spirit of God. Moreover, that is what the church will always be: mud breathed by the Spirit of Jesus: Fragile and believers of little faith: Christians made of mud, theologians made of mud, priests and bishops made of mud, communities made of clay.
Only the Spirit of Jesus makes us a living Church. The areas where the Spirit of Jesus is not received yet are “dead.” The Spirit of Jesus is present there where there is peace, compassion and forgiveness. We must not just talk about love but love everyone just like He did.
Sunday May 13, 2018
Solemnity Of The Ascension Of The Lord
(Seventh Sunday of Easter – B)
Gospel Mk 16: 15-20
Jesus said to his disciples: “Go into the whole world and proclaim the gospel to every creature. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved; whoever does not believe will be condemned.
These signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will drive out demons, they will speak new languages. They will pick up serpents with their hands, and if they drink any deadly thing, it will not harm them. They will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.” So then, the Lord Jesus, after he spoke to them, was taken up into heaven and took his seat at the right hand of God. But they went forth and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them and confirmed the word through accompanying signs.
Ebanjelioa Markos 16: 16-20
15 Eta Jesusek esan zien bere ikasleei: «Zoazte mundu guztian zehar eta hots egin berri ona izaki guztiei. 16 Sinesten eta bataiatzen den oro salbatua izango da; sinesten ez duena, berriz, kondenatua. 17 Sinestedunek seinale hauek izango dituzte berekin: nire izenean deabruak botako dituzte, hizkuntza berriz mintzatuko dira, 18 sugeak eskuetan hartuko dituzte eta, edari hilgarriren bat edanik ere, ez die gaitzik egingo; gaixoei eskuak ezarriko dizkiete eta sendatu egingo dira». 19 Horrela hitz egin ondoren, Jesus Jauna zerura jasoa izan zen eta Jainkoaren eskuinean eseri zen. 20 Haiek, berriz, alde guztietara joan ziren berri ona hots egitera. Eta Jauna bera ari zen haiekin, egiten zituzten mirarien bidez mezua baietsiz.
Mission: to Be Witness
The Gospels describe with different nuances the mission Jesus entrusted to his followers. According to Matthew, they must “make disciples” who are to live as He taught. According to Luke, they are to be “witnesses” of what they experienced while living with Jesus. Mark sums it up by saying that they must “proclaim the Gospel to all creatures.”
Today many of those who enter our Christian communities do not directly experience the encounter with the Gospel. What they perceive, rather, is a modus operandi of an aging religion, with signs of a severe crisis. Many cannot clearly identify within that religion the Good News and the impact Jesus provoked twenty centuries ago.
Moreover, many Christians do not directly know the Gospel. All they know about Jesus and his message is a partial and fragmented reconstruction of events, after listening to catechists and preachers. Many live their religion deprived from the powerful experience of a personal encounter with the Gospel. How we, preachers and catechists, will be able to proclaim the Good News of Jesus, if we ourselves have not been able to encounter Jesus in our personal lives and in our communities?
Second Vatican Council reminds us all about something too often neglected now: that “The Gospel is, at all times, the source of all life for the Church.” Thus, it is about time that we understand and configure our Christian communities as a place where the first thing to do is to welcome the Gospel of Jesus in our persons as well as our midst.
Nothing can regenerate the wounded tissue of our communities in crisis, as it can the power of the Gospel and the vivid presence of Jesus among us. Only a personal, direct, and immediate experience of the encounter with the Gospel can revitalize our Church. Within few years, when the ongoing crisis will force us to focus only on the essentials, we shall see clearly that nothing is more important today for Christians than to gather to read, listen and share the gospel accounts together.
The first important step for us is to believe in the regenerative power of the Gospel. The Gospel narratives teach us to live our faith, not by constraint but by attraction, by seduction. The Gospels compel us to live our Christian life not as a duty but as irradiation and witness. We must try to introduce this dynamic in our parishes by gathering in small groups, not only to acquire more knowledge, but also to touch and taste the Gospel, to see Jesus in whom we shall be able to recover our identity as disciples.
We must return to the Gospel to start all over again. No program or pastoral strategies can take over the task to encounter and experience Jesus in the Gospel. From the task of listening together to the Gospel of Jesus, the regeneration of our Christian faith shall commence in small communities, scattered in a secularized society where we, then, will be salt and light of the world.
Sunday May 6, 2018
Sixth Sunday of Easter (B)
Gospel Jn 15: 9-17
Jesus said to his disciples: “As the Father loves me, so I also love you. Remain in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and remain in his love. “I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and your joy might be complete. This is my commandment: love one another as I love you. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. I no longer call you slaves, because a slave does not know what his master is doing. I have called you friends, because I have told you everything I have heard from my Father. It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will remain, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name he may give you. This I command you: love one another.”
Ebanjelioa Joan 15: 9-17
Aldi hartan Jesusen esan zien bere ikasleei: 9 “Aitak maite nauen bezala, halaxe maite zaituztet nik ere zuek; iraun tinko nire maitasunean. 10 Nire aginduak betetzen badituzue, nire maitasunean iraungo duzue, nik neure Aitaren aginduak betez haren maitasunean irauten dudan bezala. 11 Hau guztia nire poza zeuengan izan dezazuen esan dizuet, eta poz hori bete-betea izan dadin. 12 «Hau da nire agindua: maita dezazuela elkar nik maite izan zaituztedan bezala. 13 Ez die inork maitasun handiagorik adiskideei, bere burua haien alde ematen duenak baino. 14 Zuek nire adiskide izango zarete, nik agintzen dizuedana egiten baduzue. 15 Aurrerantzean ez dizuet morroi deituko, morroiak ez baitu jakiten nagusiaren asmoen berri; zuei adiskide deitzen dizuet, neure Aitak jakinarazitako guztia adierazi baitizuet. 16 Ez ninduzuen zuek ni aukeratu, neuk zintuztedan zuek aukeratu. Eta eginkizun hau eman dizuet: edonon fruitu ugaria eta iraunkorra eman dezazuela. Nire izenean Aitari eskatuko diozuen guztia, eman egingo dizue. 17 Hauxe agintzen dizuet: maita dezazuela elkar.
The more You give away, the more You receive
We live in a culture of “instant gratification.” This is, without any doubt, one of the most visible characteristic features of modern society. Since the publication of the great work of Gerhard Schulze, “The Experience Society; The Sociology of Contemporary Civilization” (1992), studies have multiplied about the behavior of people in modern society. In these studies, the “Western person” is described as someone who seek immediate gratification. He/she is not much concerned about the past and does not expect much about what the future may bring. Just in case there exist nothing beyond dead, the Western person throws wholeheartedly into enjoying the present moment to the full. This seems to be for us “the most reasonable strategy.” Namely, to try to get the entire juice one can from the here and now without depriving oneself of anything. The aim is to squeeze the juice of every moment for our own personal advantage and satisfaction, because tomorrow maybe too late already.
The reasons for such an attitude seem clear. We are subjected to the pressure of a dizzying pace. Everything changes constantly. What has full validity today is outdated tomorrow. One cannot stop at anything. Modern authors speak in all languages repeatedly the same words, “transitory,” “instabilidad,” “précarité,” “insecurity,” “incertezza,” “transitorio,” and so forth. Nothing seems safe and durable any longer. It is best to hold on to the present and just enjoy life, just in case.
Such an attitude begins already to configure the various areas of our life. There are no lasting commitments. People depend on the wishes and desires of the moment. What matters is that life is interesting and fun. Marriage is not any longer a commitment “until death do us part” but a contract “while our personal satisfactions are fulfilled.” This attitude to seek immediate satisfaction also affects the way we understand and live the religious world. People are interested in emotions, in what is exciting, and the novelty of things. People take rather what seems to be exotic, liturgical paraphernalia, return to Latin, and abandons that which looks too vulgar, simple and familiar, because it is already known or old, just because it is known forever.
It is not difficult to grasp in all of this an attitude of stampede and evasion, a “lack of seriousness” as Soren Kierkegaard would say. Hence, the importance of listening to the call of Christ in today’s Gospel: “Abide in my love… If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love” (John 15: 9-10). In following Christ, what matters is not feelings, emotions or news, but knowing to “remain” faithful in love. Existence is not only fun and entertainment. It is also the responsibility of taking up our daily cross and follow Jesus to Golgotha. Only from there comes out true life.
Sunday April 29, 2018
Fifth Sunday of Easter (B)
Gospel Jn 15: 1-8
Jesus said to his disciples: “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vine grower. He takes away every branch in me that does not bear fruit, and every one that does he prunes so that it bears more fruit. You are already pruned because of the word that I spoke to you. Remain in me, as I remain in you. Just as a branch cannot bear fruit on its own unless it remains on the vine, so neither can you unless you remain in me. I am the vine, you are the branches. Whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit, because without me you can do nothing. Anyone who does not remain in me will be thrown out like a branch and wither; people will gather them and throw them into a fire and they will be burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask for whatever you want and it will be done for you. By this is my Father glorified, that you bear much fruit and become my disciples.”
Ebanjelioa Joan 15: 1-8
1 «Neu naiz egiazko mahatsondoa, eta nire Aita da nekazaria. 2 Fruiturik ematen ez duen aihena ebaki egiten du Aitak, eta fruitua ematen duena garbitu eta kimatu, fruitu gehiago eman dezan. 3 Zuek garbi zaudete dagoeneko, adierazi dizuedan mezuaren bidez. 4 Zaudete niri itsatsiak, ni zuei bezala. Aihenak, mahatsondoari itsatsia ez badago, fruiturik eman ezin duen bezala, ezta zuek ere, niri itsatsiak ez bazaudete. 5 «Ni naiz mahatsondoa eta zuek aihenak. Norbait niri itsatsia badago, ni berari bezala, horrek fruitu asko emango du; ni gabe ezin baituzue ezer egin. 6 Niri itsatsirik ez dagoena kanpora botatzen dute, ebaki eta ihartzen den aihena bezalaxe; gero, bildu, sutara bota eta erre egiten dute. 7 Niri itsatsirik bazaudete eta nire irakatsiek zuengan tinko irauten badute, eskatu nahi duzuena eta izango duzue. 8 Honetan azaltzen da nire Aitaren aintza: zuek, nire ikasle izanik, fruitu asko ematean.
Everything with Jesus, Nothing without Jesus
The image John presents us today is simple and yet highly expressive. Jesus is the “true vine,” full of life; his disciples are “branches” who live from the sap that comes from Jesus; the Father is the “wine grower” who personally cares for the vines so that they may bear abundant fruit. The only important thing is that God’s plan, the Kingdom of God, becomes a reality with the vision of a more humane and happy world for all, where all can sit at the table of the banquet of the Kingdom and enjoy delicious foods and wines.
The image highlights also where the problem is. There are dry branches where the lifeblood of Jesus is not circulating properly. There are disciples who do not bear fruit because the Spirit of the Risen Christ does not run through their veins. There are Christian communities languishing and without energy, because they are disconnected from Jesus, more concerned about laws, rituals, and doctrines than about being live giving communities.
For this reason, John makes the following statement full of intensity, “a branch cannot bear fruit on its own unless it remains on the vine,” which means, the life of the disciples is sterile “unless they remain” in Jesus. His words are categorical: “Without me you can do nothing.” Is not in this precise point, that the true root and cause of the crisis of our Christianity is been revealed to us? Why are we so divided? Why so many groups and factions and readymade slogans? It is because we cut ourselves away from the only life-giving vine. When our religion is reduced to mere anachronistic “folklore” and triumphalist exercise of power, the Good News of the Gospel announced by Jesus will not reach the poor and the oppressed. The Church cannot carry out the mission of Christ in today’s world, if we, who call ourselves “Christians” do not become disciples of Jesus, inspired by His spirit and His passion to build a more humane world.
To be a Christian always requires having the experience of a personal encounter with Jesus Christ, an inner knowledge of His person and a passion for His project. Many Christians live today worried and distracted by many irrelevant issues and endless gossips. It cannot be otherwise. However, we must not forget the essential. We are all “branches.” Only Jesus is “the true vine.” The decisive thing right now is “to remain in Him” putting all our attention in the Gospel. Everything with Jesus, Nothing without Jesus.
Sunday April 22, 2018
Fourth Sunday of Easter (B)
Sunday Jn 10: 11-18
Jesus said: “I am the good shepherd. A good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. A hired man, who is not a shepherd and whose sheep are not his own, sees a wolf coming and leaves the sheep and runs away, and the wolf catches and scatters them. This is because he works for pay and has no concern for the sheep. I am the good shepherd, and I know mine and mine know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I will lay down my life for the sheep. I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold. These also I must lead, and they will hear my voice, and there will be one flock, one shepherd. This is why the Father loves me, because I lay down my life in order to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down on my own. I have power to lay it down, and power to take it up again. This command I have received from my Father.”
Ebanjelioa Joan 10: 11-18
11 «Neu naiz artzain ona; artzain onak bere burua ematen du ardien alde. 12 Morroiak, otsoa etortzen ikusi orduko, ardiak utzi eta ihes egiten du, ez baita artzaina eta ardiak ere ez baititu bereak. Orduan, otsoak ardiak harrapatu eta sakabanatu egiten ditu. 13 Izan ere, morroiari lansaria zaio axola eta ez ardiak. 14 «Neu naiz artzain ona. Ezagutzen ditut neure ardiak, eta ni ere ezagutzen naute neureek, 15 Aitak ni ezagutzen eta nik ere bera ezagutzen dudan bezalaxe. Nik neure burua ematen dut ardien alde. 16 Baditut artegian ez dauden beste ardi batzuk ere; haiek ere erakarri egin behar ditut; nire ahotsa entzungo dute eta artalde bakarra izango dira, artzain bakarraren gidaritzapean. 17 «Horregatik maite nau Aitak, neure bizia ematen dudalako eta horrela eskuratzen berriro. 18 Ez dit bizia inork kentzen, baizik eta nik neurez ematen dut. Neure esku dut ematea, eta neure esku berriro hartzea. Hori da neure Aitarengandik hartu dudan agindua.»
Jesus the Only Center (Good Shepherd)
When among the early Christians conflicts and divisions between different groups and leaders began taking shape, someone felt the need to remember all, that in the community, only Jesus is the Good Shepherd. Not as one more among many shepherds, but the real one, the true one, whom all must obey and follow.
This beautiful image of Jesus, as the Good Shepherd, is a call to conversion, addressed to those who claim the title of “shepherds” in the Christian communities. The shepherd, who looks like Jesus, thinks only about the sheep, does not “flee” away from the everyday problems, and does not abandon his sheep to their fate. On the contrary, He walks with them, defends them, risks his own life to defend them, and only seeks the well-being of his sheep.
At the same time, this image of the “Good Shepherd” is a call to fraternal communion among all. The Good Shepherd “knows” his sheep and his sheep “know” him. It is only from this close proximity, from this mutual understanding and this communion of heart, that the Good Shepherd shares his life with his own. We, also, need in our Church today to walk toward the same fellowship, communion and understanding. However, these are not easy times for our faith: we are so fragmented that we need, as never before, to join forces, and search together for gospel criteria and guidelines for action as to know, which direction we are to walk in order to bring hope to our wounded society.
Maybe this is not what is happening. The hierarchical shepherds make some conventional calls to keep united around the “doctrine” (often mixed with some suspicious political implications) but without clear guidelines to taking steps to invite the faithful to taking radical and bold decisions aimed at building the Kingdom of God on this earth. Often, we witness attitudes of lack of mutual listening and dialogue in our communities. We also witness the growth of mutual disqualifications and dissensions between bishops and theologians; between theologians of different trends; between movements and communities of different sign; between groups and “blocks” of all kinds in our communities. Perhaps the saddest thing is the perception of a growing estrangement or cliff between the hierarchy and the Christian people: the sacred and the profane, clergy and laity (pay, pray and obey). As if, there were two separate worlds. In many places, the “shepherds” and “sheep” barely know each other. Many “shepherds” find it not easy to tune with the real needs of sheep, because they live at a higher social status.
Jesus challenges us all to believe in Him and his big dream about the Kingdom of God: the only aim of the Church. Only the faithful who are ready to give their lives for the Kingdom of God and for the Brothers and Sisters are full of the Spirit of Jesus.
Sunday April 15, 2018
Third Sunday of Easter (B)
Gospel Lk 24: 35-48
The two disciples recounted what had taken place on the way, and how Jesus was made known to them in the breaking of bread. While they were still speaking about this, he stood in their midst and said to them, “Peace be with you.” But they were startled and terrified and thought that they were seeing a ghost. Then he said to them, “Why are you troubled? And why do questions arise in your hearts? Look at my hands and my feet, that it is I myself. Touch me and see, because a ghost does not have flesh and bones as you can see I have.” And as he said this, he showed them his hands and his feet. While they were still incredulous for joy and were amazed, he asked them, “Have you anything here to eat?” They gave him a piece of baked fish; he took it and ate it in front of them. He said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the law of Moses and in the prophets and psalms must be fulfilled.” Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures. And he said to them, “Thus it is written that the Christ would suffer and rise from the dead on the third day and that repentance, for the forgiveness of sins, would be preached in his name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things.”
Ebanjelioa Lukas 24: 35-48
35 Bi ikasleek bidean gertatua eta nola ogia zatitzean ezagutu zuten kontatu zieten. 36 Hamaikak eta lagunak horretaz mintzo zirela, Jesus agertu zitzaien erdian eta esan zien: «Bakea zuei». 37 Beldur-ikaraz beterik, mamua ikusten zutela uste zuten. 38 Baina Jesusek esan zien: «Zergatik izutzen zarete? Zergatik sortzen zaizkizue zalantza horiek barruan? 39 Ikusi nire esku-oinak, neu naiz. Uki nazazue eta begira: mamuak ez du hezur-haragirik, eta nik bai, ikusten duzuenez». 40 Hau esatean, esku-oinak erakutsi zizkien. 41 Baina, oraindik pozaren pozez sinetsi ezinik eta guztiz harriturik zeudenez, Jesusek esan zien: «Ba al duzue hemen jatekorik?» 42 Arrain erre puska bat eskaini zioten. 43 Jesusek hartu eta beraien aurrean jan zuen. 44 Ondoren, esan zien: «Hauxe da, oraindik zuekin nengoela esan nizuena: Moisesen legean, profeten liburuetan eta salmoetan nitaz idatzitako guztia bete beharrekoa zela». 45 Orduan, adimena argitu zien, Liburu Santuak uler zitzaten. 46 Eta esan zien: «Idatzia zegoen Mesiasek sufritu egin behar zuela eta hirugarren egunean hildakoen artetik piztu, 47 eta, Jerusalemdik hasita, herri guztiei bihozberritzeko hots egin behar zaiela, bekatuak barka dakizkien. 48 Zuek zarete honen guztiaren lekuko.
Luke describes the encounter of the Risen Jesus with his disciples as a founding experience of the first Christian community. The desire of Jesus is clear. His task did not finish on the cross. Raised by God after his execution, Jesus makes contact with his disciples to launch a movement of “witnesses” capable of spreading to all peoples the Good News: “You are to be my witnesses.”
It was not an easy task to make witnesses of those men and women lost in total despair, confusion, and fear after crucifixion. Throughout the whole scene, the disciples remain silent, in total silence. The evangelist describes only their inner world: they are full of terror; they only feel confusion and disbelief; everything they’ve heard from the women seems too good to be true. Jesus will regenerate their faith. It is indispensable that they do not feel alone. They must experience Jesus as someone full of life among them. That is why Jesus’ first words are: “Peace be with you … why do you let doubts arise in your hearts?”
When we forget the living presence of Jesus in our midst, or when our personal desire to be protagonist and internal conflicts obfuscate His compassionate and challenging presence among us, or when sadness and mutual disaffection prevent us from feeling and experiencing His peace, or when we are caught up each other with pessimism and disbelief, then, we are committing a sin against Risen One. In such circumstances, it is not possible to be a community of witnesses.
To awaken their faith, Jesus asks them to look not at his face, but at his hands and feet. They are to look at His wounds, at the broken body of the one who was crucified. They are to always have their eyes fixed on the love He reveals us through his death. He is certainly not a ghost: “It is I in person.” The same One whom you have known and loved as we walked through the dusty roads of Galilee.
Whenever we try to support the faith in the Risen One with our knowledge or doctrines, then we turn Him into a ghost. To meet him, we must explore the story of the Gospels: we must look and discover those broken hands, which once blessed and caressed the sick and children, and those broken feet tired from walking to meet the most neglected. We must discover His wounds and passion. This Jesus was raised by the Father and now lives among us.
Despite seeing them full of fear and doubt, Jesus still has full trusts in his disciples. He will send them the Spirit that will sustain their testimony. Jesus asks them to extend His presence in the world: “You are witnesses of this.” They should not teach sublime doctrines but simply spread out their experience of the personal encounter with Jesus. They are not to preach great theories about Christ but to irradiate His Spirit. They have to make Jesus believable with their personal life-styles, not just with words. This is always the real problem of the Church: the lack of witnesses.
Sunday April 8, 2018
Second Sunday of Easter (B)
Gospel Jn 20: 19-31
On the evening of that first day of the week, when the doors were locked, where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in their midst and said to them, “Peace be with you.” When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. The disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained.” Thomas, called Didymus, one of the Twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples said to him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands and put my finger into the nail marks and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.” Now a week later his disciples were again inside and Thomas was with them. Jesus came, although the doors were locked, and stood in their midst and said, “Peace be with you.” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and see my hands, and bring your hand and put it into my side, and do not be unbelieving, but believe.” Thomas answered and said to him, “My Lord and my God!” Jesus said to him, “Have you come to believe because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed.” Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples that are not written in this book. But these are written that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that through this belief you may have life in his name.
Ebanjelioa Joan 20: 19-31
19 Asteko lehen egun hartan bertan, arratsean, ikasleak etxe batean bildurik zeuden; judu-agintarien beldurrez, ateak itxirik zeuzkaten. Sartu zen Jesus eta, erdian jarririk, agurtu zituen esanez: «Bakea zuei». 20 Gero, eskuak eta saihetsa erakutsi zizkien. Pozez bete ziren ikasleak Jauna ikustean. 21 Jesusek berriro esan zien: «Bakea zuei. Aitak ni bidali nauen bezala, nik zuek bidaltzen zaituztet». 22 Eta haien gainera arnasa botaz, esan zien: «Hartzazue Espiritu Santua. 23 Zuek bekatuak barkatzen dizkiezuenei barkatu egingo dizkie Jainkoak ere; zuek barkamena ukatzen diezuenei, ukatu egingo die». 24 Tomas, Hamabietako bat, Bikia zeritzana, ez zegoen haiekin Jesus etorri zenean. 25 Elkartu zirenean, beste ikasleek esan zioten: –Jauna ikusi dugu. Tomasek erantzun zien: –Haren eskuetan iltzeen seinalea ikusten ez badut, eta nire atzamarra iltze-zuloetan eta nire eskua haren saihets-zuloan sartzen ez badut, ez dut inola ere sinetsiko. 26 Zortzi egunen buruan, etxean zeuden berriro ikasleak, eta Tomas ere bertan zen. Ateak itxirik zeuden arren, sartu zen Jesus eta, erdian jarririk, agurtu zituen esanez: «Bakea zuei». 27 Gero, esan zion Tomasi: –Ekarri atzamarra eta aztertu nire eskuak; ekarri eskua eta sartu nire saihets-zuloan. Eta ez izan sinesgogor, sinestedun baizik. 28 Tomasek erantzun zion: –Ene Jauna eta ene Jainkoa! 29 Jesusek esan zion: –Ikusi nauzulako sinetsi al duzu? Zorionekoak ikusi gabe sinesten dutenak. 30 Mirarizko beste seinale asko egin zituen Jesusek bere ikasleen aurrean, liburu honetan idatzirik ez daudenak. 31 Hemen kontatuak Jesus Mesias eta Jainkoaren Semea dela sinets dezazuen idatzi dira eta, sinetsiz, betiko bizia izan dezazuen hari esker.
Jesus is Alive in the Community
John’s account could not be more suggestive and challenging. Only when they see the risen Jesus among them is the group of disciples transformed. The disciples were able to recover inner peace; their fears disappear, and they are filled with an unknown joy: all because they experience the life-giving presence of Jesus among them. It is only now, that they can open the doors and go out, because they have discovered that they are sent to live out the same mission of Jesus, which He had received from the Father.
The current crisis in the Church, her fears and her lack of spiritual vigor, may be the result of a very deep crisis. Often, the idea of the resurrection of Jesus, and his presence among us, is more of a preached doctrine, than a lived experience of the presence of Jesus, which sends us to carry on with His mission. The Risen Christ is, yes, at the center of the Church, but His living presence is not rooted in us, it is not incorporated into the substance of our communities and does not inspire our pastoral projects and activities. After twenty centuries of Christianity, Jesus’ originality and radical message is not known or understood. Jesus is not loved and followed today passionately as he was followed by his disciples.
It is noticeable, right away, when someone or a Christian community live as being inhabited by the invisible presence of the risen Christ. These communities, crafted in the image of Jesus, are not happy to only follow routinely the guidelines governing ecclesial life. They have a special sensitivity to listen, to look around, to experience the memory of Jesus, and to apply the Gospel to their present historical context. These communities, challenged by the message of Jesus, carry on with the mission of Jesus to construct the Kingdom of God, by transforming themselves and the world around them.
Nothing can bring us today the strength, the joy and the creativity we need to face an unprecedented crisis, if it is not the living presence of the risen Christ. Deprived of His spiritual strength, we will not be able to liberate ourselves from our almost innate passivity; without His spirit, we shall continue with the doors and windows closed to the modern world; yes, we will continue following the “instructions” but without joy or conviction.
Where shall we find the strength we need to recreate and reform our Church? We need to convert to Jesus. We need Jesus more than ever. We need to live out our lives from His living presence among us, remembering at all times His way of looking at things; and more important, we need to let His Spirit be the inspiration of our actions. He is in our midst sharing with us His peace, joy and Spirit.
Sunday April 1, 2018
The Resurrection of the Lord
The Mass of Easter Day (B)
Gospel Jn 20: 1-9
On the first day of the week, Mary of Magdala came to the tomb early in the morning, while it was still dark, and saw the stone removed from the tomb. So she ran and went to Simon Peter and to the other disciple whom Jesus loved, and told them, “They have taken the Lord from the tomb, and we don’t know where they put him.” So Peter and the other disciple went out and came to the tomb. They both ran, but the other disciple ran faster than Peter and arrived at the tomb first; he bent down and saw the burial cloths there, but did not go in. When Simon Peter arrived after him, he went into the tomb and saw the burial cloths there, and the cloth that had covered his head, not with the burial cloths but rolled up in a separate place. Then the other disciple also went in, the one who had arrived at the tomb first, and he saw and believed. For they did not yet understand the Scripture that he had to rise from the dead.
Ebanjelioa Joan 20: 1-9
1 Asteko lehen egunean Magdalako Maria hilobira joan zen goizean goiz, artean ilun zegoela, eta harria hilobitik kendua ikusi zuen. 2 Orduan, Simon Pedrorengana eta Jesusek maite zuen beste ikasleagana itzuli zen lasterka, eta esan zien: «Eraman egin dute Jauna hilobitik, eta ez dakigu non ipini duten». 3 Irten ziren, orduan, Pedro eta beste ikaslea eta hilobirantz jo zuten. 4 Biak batera zihoazen korrika, baina beste ikaslea Pedro baino arinago zihoan, eta lehenago iritsi zen hilobira. 5 Barrura begiratzeko makurturik, oihal-zerrendak lurrean zeudela ikusi zuen, baina ez zen sartu. 6 Iritsi zen haren atzetik Simon Pedro eta sartu zen hilobira. Oihal-zerrendak lurrean ikusi zituen, 7 baita Jesusen burua biltzen egoniko zapia ere; baina hau ez zegoen oihal-zerrendekin batera jarria, beste toki batean aparte bildua baizik. 8 Orduan, sartu zen beste ikaslea ere, hilobira lehenengo iritsi zena. Ikusi eta sinetsi egin zuen. 9 Izan ere, ordu arte ez zuten ikasleek ulertu Liburu Santuak dioena, Jesusek hildakoen artetik piztu behar zuela, alegia.
The Cross is Life
“You have slain him, but God raised him.” This is what the disciples of Jesus preached, with faith, through the streets of Jerusalem, just a few days after his execution. For them, the resurrection of Jesus was God’s answer to the unjust and criminal action of those who wanted to silence Jesus’ voice, and forever get rid of his great project and utopic dream of establishing the Kingdom of God, namely a fairer world.
We must never forget this: At the heart of our faith, there is a crucified one, whom God has proven to be right. In the center of the Church, there is a victim, to whom God has done justice. A “crucified” life supported and lived in the spirit of Jesus, will never end in failure, but in resurrection.
This deep conviction, totally transforms the meaning of our efforts, sorrows, labors and sufferings in our struggle to build a more human and a happier world and life for all. To live thinking of those who suffer, or being close to the destitute, or lending a hand to the helpless… to follow on the footsteps of Jesus, is not something absurd: all of these, make meaningful our efforts to walk towards the unfathomable mystery of a God, who will resurrect us and invite us to live forever with Him.
The small abuses that we may suffer, the injustices, all the rejections and misunderstandings that we may have to go through, all are wounds that, one day, will heal forever. We must learn to look with faith, the scars of the Risen One. Because our today’s wounds, one day will be scars healed forever by God. Such a faith sustains us inside, and makes us stronger, to continue taking risks for God’s sake. Gradually, we must learn not to complain so much, not to live forever lamenting the evil in the world and in the Church, not to always feel as the victim of others. Why can we not live like Jesus when he said, “No one takes away my life, but it is I the one who gives it away for others?”
To follow the Crucified One to the point of sharing with him the resurrection means, ultimately, to learn to “give away my life,” my time, my strength and maybe my own health, and certainly my wealth, for love of others. We shall never be short of wounds, tiredness and fatigue. There is a Hope that sustains us: One day “God will wipe away every tear from our eyes, and there shall be no more death or mourning, wailing or pain, because this entire old world will have passed away and a new Heaven created.”
Sunday March 25, 208
Sunday March 18, 2018
Fifth Sunday of Lent (B)
Gospel Jn 12:20-33
Some Greeks who had come to worship at the Passover Feast came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and asked him, “Sir, we would like to see Jesus.” Philip went and told Andrew; then Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus. Jesus answered them, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Amen, amen, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat; but if it dies, it produces much fruit. Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will preserve it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there also will my servant be. The Father will honor whoever serves me. “I am troubled now. Yet what should I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? But it was for this purpose that I came to this hour. Father, glorify your name.” Then a voice came from heaven, “I have glorified it and will glorify it again.” The crowd there heard it and said it was thunder; but others said, “An angel has spoken to him.” Jesus answered and said, “This voice did not come for my sake but for yours. Now is the time of judgment on this world; now the ruler of this world will be driven out. And when I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw everyone to myself.” He said this indicating the kind of death he would die.
Ebanjelioa Joan 12: 20-33
20 Jaietan Jainkoari kultu ematera joan zirenen artean baziren greziar batzuk. 21 Hauek Galileako Betsaidako Felipegana hurbildu eta eskabide hau egin zioten: «Jauna, Jesus ikusi nahi genuke». 22 Felipe Andresi esatera joan zen, eta biek, Andresek eta Felipek, Jesusi jakinarazi zioten. 23 Jesusek erantzun zien: «Iritsi da Gizonaren Semearen aintza azalduko den ordua. 24 Bene-benetan diotsuet: Gari-alea, lurrean sartu eta hiltzen ez bada, bera bakarrik gelditzen da; hiltzen bada, ordea, fruitu asko ematen du. 25 Bere bizia maite duenak galdu egingo du; baina mundu honetan bere bizia gutxiesten duenak betiko bizirako gordeko du. 26 Nire zerbitzari izan nahi duenak jarrai biezat eta, ni nagoen tokian, han izango da nire zerbitzaria ere. Nire zerbitzari dena Aitak ohoratu egingo du. 27 «Larri dut orain neure barrua. Baina zer esan? Larrialdi honetatik ateratzeko eskatuko al diot Aitari? Ez horixe, honetarakoxe etorri bainaiz! 28 Aita, azaldu zeure aintza!» Ahots bat entzun zen orduan zerutik: «Azaldu dut, eta berriro ere azalduko dut». 29 Han zeudenetako batzuek, ahotsa entzunik, trumoia izan zela zioten; beste batzuek, ordea, aingeru batek hitz egin ziola. 30 Jesusek adierazi zuen: «Ahots horrek ez du niretzat hitz egin, zuentzat baizik. 31 Oraintxe da mundu honen epaiketa; oraintxe galduko du bere boterea mundu honetako buruzagiak. 32 Eta nik, lurretik jasoko nautenean, neuregana erakarriko ditut denak». 33 Hitz hauen bidez, nolako heriotzaz hilko zen adierazi zuen.
Few sentences may be found in the gospels, expressed in such challenging words, which capture a very profound conviction of Jesus: “I assure you, unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat; but if it dies, it produces much fruit.” What Jesus means is clear. With life it happens as with the grain of wheat: it has to die in order to release all its vital energy and, one day, produce abundant fruit. If “it does not die,” it remains alone above the ground. Conversely, if it “dies” it rises again bringing new life and new grains.
With this very simple graphic and forceful language, Jesus tells us that his death, far from being a failure, will precisely bring fertility and fullness to HIS life. At the same time, Jesus invites his followers to live according to the same paradoxical law: to give life it is necessary “to die.”
It is not possible to beget life without giving away our own. It is not possible to help others to live, if one is not willing to “die out” for others in the process. It is not possible to try to build a more just and humane world, if we remain attached to our own personal comfort and security. No one can seriously claim to work for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, if, in the process, we are not willing to take risks and assume the rejection, the conflicts and even the persecution Jesus suffered.
We spend our lives trying to avoid that kind of suffering and problems and we would rather hide ourselves behind easy practices of a spiritual-religious facade. Our dislike to take up the cross and follow Jesus has made of us nominal Christians, only too happy to proclaim a few doctrinal slogans. However, there are sufferings and sacrifices that we must be ready to take on if we wish our life to be a fruitful and creative one. Hedonism is not an inspiring and energy giving force; neither is the obsession for our personal or national wellbeing and security: these dwarf people.
We have grown used to living with our eyes closed to the suffering of others. In fact, other people’s sufferings make us very uncomfortable. We use all possible gadgets to live distracted and away from the cry of the people. However, this attitude is not making us happy either. Surely, we may be able to avoid some problems and disappointments, but our wellbeing and comfort will increasingly turn empty, boring and sterile, and our religion increasingly sad and selfish.
Sunday March 11, 2018
Fourth Sunday of Lent (B)
Gospel Jn 3: 14-21
Jesus said to Nicodemus: “Just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, so that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life.” For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him will not be condemned, but whoever does not believe has already been condemned, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. And this is the verdict, that the light came into the world, but people preferred darkness to light, because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come toward the light, so that his works might not be exposed. But whoever lives the truth comes to the light, so that his works may be clearly seen as done in God.
Ebanjelioa Joan 3: 14-21
Jesusek esan zion Nikodemori: 14 Moisesek basamortuan brontzezko sugea hagan jaso zuen bezala, halaxe izan behar du jasoa Gizonaren Semeak, 15 harengan sinesten duten guztiek betiko bizia izan dezaten. 16 «Izan ere, Jainkoak hain maite izan zuen mundua, non bere Seme bakarra eman baitzion, harengan sinesten duenik inor gal ez dadin, baizik betiko bizia izan dezan. 17 Zeren Jainkoak ez baitzuen Semea mundura bidali mundua kondenatzeko, haren bitartez salbatzeko baizik. 18 Harengan sinesten duena ez da kondenatua; sinesten ez duena, ordea, kondenatua dago jadanik, ez baitu sinetsi Jainkoaren Seme bakarrarengan. 19 Hauxe da kondenaren arrazoia: argia mundura etorria dela eta gizakiak ilunpea maiteago izan duela argia baino, beraren jokabidea gaiztoa delako. 20 Izan ere, gaizki jokatzen duenak gorroto dio argiari, eta ez da hurbiltzen argitara, beraren jokabidea agerian geldi ez dadin. 21 Egiaren arabera ari dena, ordea, argitara hurbiltzen da, beraren egintzak Jainkoaren borondatearen arabera eginak direla ager dadin».
The one who lives truthfully, arrives at the Light
Often, we hear and even say, that modern man does not want to hear about God. My personal experience tells me that it is not true. More than ever, people want today to hear about God, but not with insincere language or inconsistent actions, which betray truth. People today cannot stand words, which do not correspond with actions, or words full of clichés and ready-made catch phrases. People today look for something more than a conventional idea of God. People look for a coherent life-style.
When facing the mystery of God, personal integrity, sincerity and coherence are the vital questions. Staying in truth, not to deceive oneself nor others. Pope Leo XIII used to say, “God does not need our lies.” Neither God nor the Church or faith lose anything with the truth. Moreover, a coherent truth brings us closer to God. Therefore, we must rejoice in something that may go unnoticed, but it is enormously positive. The modern atheism is forcing us believers to purify our image of God. With its objections and criticisms, it is urging us to greater sincerity and truth. When we see that our own children do not wish to come to church, it forces us, adults, to consider what kind of God’s image we try to portray on them.
True theology is not triumphalist, but humble. God does not impose on anyone. God invites us to trace HIM on the many paths we find in our lives. It is like the wind: “you hear it, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes.” We must announce the unfathomable mystery of God’s love, and not our doctrinal or cultural adhesions, which, often, hide God’s tenderness, compassion and love for every human being.
The late Hungarian theologian, Ladislaus Boros SJ (+1981), once said that the most dreadful form of atheism that threatens us all is “the atheism of insincerity.” It is true. Some call ourselves believers and others agnostics, but the truth is that only those who lead a coherent life-style are near to God. We all can make mistakes, but only to the one who is searching the light, God will come to meet him on the way.
Often under dogmatic attitudes or the agnostic apathy, we hide a lack of courage to approach sincerely the living and true God. Therefore, we should heed the words of Jesus: “Whoever performs the truth approaches the light.”
Sunday March 4, 2018
Third Sunday Of Lent (B)
Gospel Jn 2: 13-2Since the Passover of the Jews was near, Jesus went up to Jerusalem. He found in the temple area those who sold oxen, sheep, and doves, as well as the moneychangers seated there. He made a whip out of cords and drove them all out of the temple area, with the sheep and oxen, and spilled the coins of the moneychangers and overturned their tables, and to those who sold doves he said, “Take these out of here, and stop making my Father’s house a marketplace.” His disciples recalled the words of Scripture: Zeal for your house will consume me. At this the Jews answered and said to him, “What sign can you show us for doing this?” Jesus answered and said to them, “Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up.” The Jews said, “This temple has been under construction for forty-six years, and you will raise it up in three days?” But he was speaking about the temple of his body. Therefore, when he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this, and they came to believe the Scripture and the word Jesus had spoken. While he was in Jerusalem for the feast of Passover, many began to believe in his name when they saw the signs he was doing. But Jesus would not trust himself to them because he knew them all, and did not need anyone to testify about human nature. He himself understood it well.
Ebanjelioa Joan 2: 13-25
13 Hurbil zen juduen Pazko-jaia, eta Jerusalemera joan zen Jesus. 14 Tenpluan merkatariak aurkitu zituen idi, ardi eta usoak saltzen, eta diru-trukatzaileak ere bai, han eserita. 15 Jesusek, lokarriz zartailu bat eginez, tenplutik kanpora bota zituen denak, baita ardiak eta idiak ere; eta trukatzaileen diruak sakabanatu eta mahaiak irauli egin zituen. 16 Uso-saltzaileei esan zien: «Kendu hemendik hau dena. Ez egin nire Aitaren etxea merkatu-etxe». 17 Ikasleei, Liburu Santuak dioena etorri zitzaien gogora: Zure tenpluaren maiteminak erreko nau. 18 Orduan, galdetu zioten judu-agintariek: –Zer seinale ematen diguzu hori egiteko aginpidea duzula frogatzeko? 19 Jesusek erantzun zien: –Desegizue tenplu hau eta hiru egunetan berreraikiko dut. 20 Juduek ihardetsi zioten: –Berrogeita sei urte behar izan dira tenplu hau eraikitzeko, eta zuk hiru egunetan berreraikiko duzula? 21 Hura, ordea, bere gorputzaren tenpluaz ari zen. 22 Horregatik, hildakoen artetik piztu zenean, esandako hori gogoratu zitzaien haren ikasleei, eta sinetsi egin zuten Liburu Santuko eta Jesusek esandako hitza. 23 Pazko-jaian Jesus Jerusalemen zegoela, askok sinetsi zuten harengan, egiten zituen mirarizko seinaleak ikusirik. 24 Baina, Jesus bera ez zen fidatzen haietaz, guztiak ezagutzen baitzituen, 25 eta ez zuen inoren aitorpen-beharrik, ongi ezagutzen baitzuen berak gizakiaren baitan dagoena.
The Temple (Religion, Church, Institution) IS NOT the Priority
All the four Gospels relate a bold and provocative gesture of Jesus within the precincts of the temple of Jerusalem. It probably was not a very spectacular gesture. He ran over a group of sellers of doves, he overturned the tables of some moneychangers and tried to interrupt the activity for a while. Jesus could not do much more. However, the gesture, full of prophetic authority, was what triggered his arrest and summary execution. Attacking the temple was to attack the heart of the Jewish people: the center of their religious, social and political life. The Temple was untouchable. Therein dwelt the God of Israel. What would be of the people without God’s presence among them? How could the people survive without the Temple?
For Jesus, however, the Temple was precisely the major obstacle to welcome the kingdom of God as He understood and proclaimed it. Jesus’ gesture called into question the unjust economic, political and religious system, which that “holy place” sustained and perpetuated. What was this temple? Was it a sign of the kingdom of God and his righteousness or just a symbol of collaboration with the imperial Rome? Was it a house of prayer or a cave of thieves, who robbed the tithes and first fruits of the poor and religious peasants? Was this Temple a sanctuary of God’s forgiveness or a social institution that justified all sorts of injustices?
That Temple was indeed a “cave of thieves.” While around of-and-with the excuse of the “house of God,” wealth was being accumulated inside, in the rest of the villages of Palestine misery was growing for the majority of the children of Abraham. No! God would never legitimize such a religion. God, the defender of the poor, could not reign from that Temple. For this reason, Jesus declares, that with the arrival of the Kingdom of God in Him, the Temple lost its reason to exist.
With his prophetic gesture, Jesus warns us all- his followers- and forces us to ask tough questions about the type of religion we are promoting in our temples. Are we placing doctrine, liturgical performance, ideological tunnel vision theology, ecclesiastical institutions and grandeur over compassion, forgiveness, tenderness, justice and humaneness, and tolerance of the different? Jesus warns us about covering sin with the mantel of “holiness.” Pope Paul VI, John Paul II, Benedict XVI and now Pope Francis have often spoken that neither religion nor the church are the center of Jesus’ proclamation, but the kingdom of God. A church that is self-centered and self-referential becomes superficial, superfluous, and selfish.
Sunday February 25, 2018
Second Sunday of Lent (B)
Gospel Mk 9: 2-10
Jesus took Peter, James, and John and led them up a high mountain apart by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his clothes became dazzling white, such as no fuller on earth could bleach them. Then Elijah appeared to them along with Moses, and they were conversing with Jesus. Then Peter said to Jesus in reply, “Rabbi, it is good that we are here! Let us make three tents: one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” He hardly knew what to say, they were so terrified. Then a cloud came, casting a shadow over them; from the cloud came a voice, “This is my beloved Son. Listen to him.” Suddenly, looking around, they no longer saw anyone but Jesus alone with them. As they were coming down from the mountain, he charged them not to relate what they had seen to anyone, except when the Son of Man had risen from the dead. So they kept the matter to themselves, questioning what rising from the dead meant.
Ebanjelioa Markos 9: 2-10
2 Handik sei egunera, Jesusek Pedro, Santiago eta Joan hartu eta mendi garai batera eraman zituen aparte. Eta antzaldatu egin zen haien aurrean: 3 jantziak distiratsu bihurtu zitzaizkion, zuri-zuri, munduan inork jar litzakeen baino zuriago. 4 Eta Elias eta Moises agertu zitzaizkien Jesusekin hizketan. 5 Pedrok esan zion Jesusi: «Maisu, zein ederki gauden hemen! Zergatik ez egin hiru etxola: bata zuretzat, bestea Moisesentzat eta bestea Eliasentzat?» 6 Ez zekien zer esaten zuen ere, beldurrak jota baitzeuden. 7 Orduan, hodei batek estali zituen eta mintzo hau izan zen hodeitik: «Hauxe dut neure Seme maitea. Entzun berari!» 8 Eta hartan, inguruan begiratu eta Jesus bakarrik ikusi zuten berekin, eta besterik inor ez. 9 Menditik beherakoan, ikusitakoa inori ez aipatzeko agindu zien, harik eta Gizonaren Semea hildakoen artetik piztu arte. 10 Agindu hau bete zuten, baina «hildakoen artetik pizte» horrekin zer adierazi nahi ote zien ziharduten beren artean.
Only the Cross brings Life
Mark tells us that Jesus took Peter, James and John, and led them to a high mountain, where he “was transfigured before them.” These disciples seem to be the very ones who apparently posed the major resistance to Jesus when he told them of his imminent painful fate of crucifixion. Peter tried even to take this absurd idea away from Jesus’ head. While the brothers James and John demanded the highest places in the kingdom of the Messiah. It is precisely in front of them that Jesus decided to transfigure. They needed a lesson more than anyone else in the group.
The scene, recreated with various symbolic resources, is magnificent. Jesus appears “clothed” with the same glory of God. Meanwhile, Elijah and Moses, who according to the Jewish tradition, were freed from experiencing death and live already now with God, are shown conversing with Jesus. All these images invite us to see the divinity of Jesus, crucified by his enemies, but resurrected by God.
Once again, it is Peter who reacts with all spontaneity, “Lord, how good it is to be here! If you wish, I will make three tents: one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.” Peter, once again, did not understand anything about Jesus. Peter even places Jesus on the same level as Elijah and Moses: each gets a tent? How nice! Again, he stubbornly resists accepting the hard way Jesus signals for Himself and his followers; Peter just wants to hold on to the glory of Tabor, moving away from the passion and the cross of the Calvary.
But, then, it is God himself that will give solemn testimony about who Jesus is: “This is my beloved Son.” Not to be mistaken with anyone else. “Listen to him” and only to HIM, even when HE talks to you about the way of the cross, because it will end up in resurrection. Only Jesus radiates light. All others, prophets and teachers, theologians and hierarchs, doctors and preachers…, their faces are pale and grim. We must not mistake anyone with Jesus. Only He is the beloved Son. His Word is the only Word we must be ready to hear and follow. Everyone else must lead us to Him.
We must listen to Him again today, when He speaks to us about “carrying the cross” of these times, without diverting our ears to false messengers and messages, like Peter wished. Success has and continues to hurt us Christians. It has taken us even to think that it is possible to build a church faithful to Jesus, bypassing the demands of the Kingdom, even without the cross. We need to share the many crosses we see around us. Open your eyes! It will help us regain our Christian identity.
Sunday February 18, 2018
First Sunday of Lent (B)
Gospel Mk 1: 12-15
The Spirit drove Jesus out into the desert, and he remained in the desert for forty days, tempted by Satan. He was among wild beasts, and the angels ministered to him. After John had been arrested, Jesus came to Galilee proclaiming the gospel of God: “This is the time of fulfillment. The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel.”
Ebanjelioa Markos 1: 12-15
12 Berehala, Espirituak basamortura bultzatu zuen Jesus. 13 Berrogei egunez egon zen basamortuan, Satanasek tentatzen zuela. Basabereekin bizi zen eta aingeruak zituen zerbitzari. 14 Joan Bataiatzailea kartzelan sartu eta gero, Jesus Galileara etorri zen eta Jainkoaren berri ona hots egiten zuen. 15 Honela zioen: «Betea da garaia, eta gainean duzue Jainkoaren erregetza. Bihozberri zaitezte eta sinetsi berri ona».
The Desert, the Place of the Encounter with God
Mark presents the scene of Jesus in the desert as a summary of his life. He also offers some clues about how to understand it. According to the evangelist, “the Spirit pushed Jesus into the desert.” It is not his personal initiative. The Spirit of God leads him into the wilderness. Jesus’ life is not meant to be a bed of easy success; rather, a time of tests, insecurity and threats await him.
However, the “desert” is at the same time, the best place to listen to the voice of God in silence and solitude. It is a place to return, in times of crisis, in order to open to the Lord new paths in the hearts of the people. Such was the way of thinking in the times of Jesus.
In the desert, Jesus “is tempted by Satan.” Mark says nothing about the content of the temptations. He only affirms that they come from “Satan,” the enemy seeking the ruin and degradation of human dignity, by destroying God’s plan. This enemy, will no longer appear throughout the Gospel of Mark. However, Jesus sees him, acting through all those people and events that want to divert HIM from the mission given to HIM by God, including Peter.
The short story ends with two images in sharp contrast: Jesus lives among wild beasts, “but” the angels serve him. The “beasts,” the most violent beings of all the creatures in the entire creation, evoke the challenges, which always threaten Jesus and his project: the realization of the Kingdom of God. The “angels,” on the other hand, representing the good beings of creation, evoke the closeness of God that blesses, maintains and defends Jesus and his mission.
Christianity seems to be going through challenging times. Following some sociological studies, we speak of crisis, secularism, and modernity’s rejection of God… If we read these signs of times with the eyes of faith, we may have to ask ourselves the following question: Is it not God, the One pushing us back into the “desert”? Maybe we needed this experience of dejection to free ourselves from pride, worldliness, thirst of power, vanity and triumphalism, which we have accumulated for so many centuries? Surely, we would never have chosen the path into the desert by our own free will!
This desert experience, which will certainly grow in the coming years, needs to be accepted as an unexpected grace and purification time for which we have to thank God. God will continue caring for His project, in spite of our miseries and shortcomings. He only asks from us that we reject lucidly all temptations, which may prevent us from converting ourselves to Jesus Christ.
Sunday February 11, 2018
Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time (B)
Gospel Mk 1: 40-45
A leper came to Jesus and kneeling down begged him and said, “If you wish, you can make me clean.” Moved with pity, he stretched out his hand, touched him, and said to him, “I do will it. Be made clean.” The leprosy left him immediately, and he was made clean. Then, warning him sternly, he dismissed him at once. He said to him, “See that you tell no one anything, but go, show yourself to the priest and offer for your cleansing what Moses prescribed; that will be proof for them.” The man went away and began to publicize the whole matter. He spread the report abroad so that it was impossible for Jesus to enter a town openly. He remained outside in deserted places, and people kept coming to him from everywhere.
Ebanjelioa Markos 1: 40-45
40 Legendun bat etorri zitzaion erreguka, eta belauniko esan zion: –Nahi baduzu, garbi nazakezu. 41 Errukiturik, Jesusek eskua luzatu eta ukitu egin zuen, esanez: –Nahi dut, izan zaitez garbi. 42 Berehala alde egin zion legenak, eta garbi gelditu zen. 43 Jesusek bidali egin zuen, zorrotz aginduz: 44 –Kontuz gero! Ez esan inori ezer. Zoaz, hala ere, azaldu apaizarengana eta eskaini garbikuntzaren ordainez Moisesek agindutakoa, ezaugarri izan dezaten. 45 Hura, ordea, irten orduko, gertatu berria goraki hots egiten eta zabaltzen hasi zen. Eta harrezkero, ezin zen Jesus inongo herritan agerian sartu, eta kanpoan gelditzen zen, bazterretan. Hala ere, edonondik zetorkion jendea.
At the beginning of his Gospel, Mark presents Jesus healing the sick, freeing people from demons, and purifying lepers. This activity of Jesus, as written by Mark, has been called “the spring of Galilee.”
These refer to stories, which are not to be read superficially, because the evangelist wrote them to emphasize the depth of the saving action of Jesus and his profound challenge to everyone. One of the most significant of these stories is “the cleansing of the leper,” where Jesus not only cleans leprosy, but everything else horrible, which that disease meant in those times. Observe that the text does not speak of “healing,” but of “purification,” “cleansing,” and it emphasizes Jesus’ desire to see him fully integrated into social life.
It is not easy for us today to grasp the situation of a leper in that Jewish society. He was certainly a patient suffering from a cruel disease, classified medically only in 1870. For the people of his time, he also was a man “punished” by God, because leprosy was considered to be the result of serious personal sins (such as, licentious life, murder, and mockery of religion). Having become a source of danger and pollution for the rest of the people, the leper was excluded from social life and forced away from home, society, and religious activity. For a leper, this situation was irreversible.
For this reason, Mark’s story is dramatic. A leper dares, in spite of all prohibitions of the law, to approach Jesus, who was alone (the disciples seem to have run quickly away to avoid contamination). The man, kneeling on the ground, with faith invoked: “If you want, you can make me clean.” What will be the reaction of Jesus the man where the unfathomable love of God has taken residence?
The evangelist has chosen the wording very carefully: “Jesus was moved with compassion, extended his hand, and touched him as He uttered ‘I do will it: Be made clean.’” Jesus did not only let the leper get closer, but He himself touched him, and expressed immediately His willingness to clean him. With his gesture, Jesus performs a prophetic, a revolutionary action, never seen before. Jesus reveals that God does not use diseases, just to punish us. Moreover, Jesus frees that man from isolation and exclusion; Jesus also dismantles the mechanism of prejudice and discrimination in society, tears down the barriers and walls, which we humans have built up to justify exclusion and discrimination. And finally, Jesus teaches us all, that the right path to move on, goes along love, inclusion, and fraternal coexistence.
All the excluded and stigmatized, all those classified by the society or churches, or those who have just come out of any kind of “closet” and of prejudices, must rejoice with the Good News of Jesus Christ: When you do not find a worthy or welcoming place among men, know that Jesus is moved with compassion and touches you. When nobody seems to understand you, Jesus does; when nobody seems to respect you, Jesus welcomes you: when others exclude you, Jesus reaches out and wraps you with his blessing and loving tenderness
La compasión sana
Al comienzo de su Evangelio, Marcos nos presenta a Jesús curando a los enfermos, liberando a los endemoniados y purificando a los leprosos. Esta actividad de Jesús que nos narra Marcos ha sido llamada “la primavera de Galilea.” Estos relatos de curación no deben leerse superficialmente, ya que el evangelista los ha escrito para enfatizar la profundidad de la acción salvadora de Jesús y que suponen, además, un profundo desafío para todos nosotros.
Uno de los más importantes relatos es “la purificación del leproso,” en el que Jesús no solo cura la lepra, sino todo lo que esa enfermedad significaba en aquellos tiempos. Observamos que el texto no habla de “curación,” sino de “purificación” y enfatiza, además, el deseo de Jesús de verlo integrado totalmente en la vida social.
Hoy no nos resulta fácil comprender la situación de un leproso en aquella sociedad judía. Sin duda, se trata de una persona que padecía una enfermedad cruel, clasificada médicamente solo en el año 1870.
Para la gente de aquel tiempo, el leproso era una persona “castigada” por Dios, porque la lepra se consideraba el resultado de un pecado personal grave (como, por ejemplo, vida licenciosa, asesinato o desprecio de la religión). Al haberse convertido en una fuente de peligro y contaminación para el resto de las personas, el leproso era excluido de la vida social y obligado a abandonar el hogar, la sociedad y toda actividad religiosa. Para un leproso, esta situación era irreversible.
Por esta razón, el relato de Maros es dramático. Este leproso se atreve, a pesar de los pesares, a acercarse a Jesús que estaba solo (porque los discípulos parecen haber huido rápidamente de él, para evitar la contaminación ritual). El hombre hinca sus rodillas en el suelo, e invoca con fe: “Si quieres, puedes limpiarme.” ¿Cuál será la reacción de Jesús, el hombre que estaba totalmente poseído del amor insondable de Dios? El evangelista ha cuidado el relato con mucho cuidado: “Jesús se conmovió, extendió su mano y lo tocó diciendo: ‘sí lo quiero, quédate limpio.’” Jesús no solo permitió que el leproso se le acercara, sino que Él mismo lo tocó y expresó de inmediato su voluntad de limpiarlo.
Con este gesto, Jesús realiza una acción profética, revolucionaria, nunca antes vista. Jesús revela que Dios no nos castiga mandándonos enfermedades. Además, Jesús libera a ese hombre del aislamiento y la exclusión; Jesús también desmantela los mecanismos de prejuicio y discriminación en la sociedad, derribando las barreras y muros que los humanos continuamente construimos para auto-justificarnos. Finalmente, Jesús nos enseña a todos, que el camino correcto para avanzar es el amor, la inclusión y la coexistencia fraterna.
Todos los excluidos y estigmatizados, todos aquellos clasificados por la sociedad o las iglesias, o aquellos que acaban de salir de algún tipo de “armario” deben alegrarse con la Buena Nueva de Jesucristo: cuando no encuentres un lugar digno o acogedor entre los hombres, sábete que Jesús se conmueve con compasión y te toca. Cuando nadie parece comprenderte, Jesús sí; cuando nadie parece respetarte, Jesús te acoge: cuando otros te excluyen, Jesús extiende su mano y te envuelve con su bendición.
Sunday February 4, 2018
Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time (B)
Gospel Mk 1: 29-39
On leaving the synagogue Jesus entered the house of Simon and Andrew with James and John. Simon’s mother-in-law lay sick with a fever. They immediately told him about her. He approached, grasped her hand, and helped her up. Then the fever left her and she waited on them. When it was evening, after sunset, they brought to him all who were ill or possessed by demons. The whole town was gathered at the door. He cured many who were sick with various diseases, and he drove out many demons, not permitting them to speak because they knew him. Rising very early before dawn, he left and went off to a deserted place, where he prayed. Simon and those who were with him pursued him and on finding him said, “Everyone is looking for you.” He told them, “Let us go on to the nearby villages that I may preach there also. For this purpose have I come.” So he went into their synagogues, preaching and driving out demons throughout the whole of Galilee.
Gospel Markos 1: 29-39
29 Jesus sinagogatik atera eta Simonen eta Andresen etxera joan zen zuzenean, Santiago eta Joanekin. 30 Simonen amaginarreba oheratua zegoen sukarrez; berehala, hartaz hitz egin zioten Jesusi. 31 Joan zitzaion ondora, eskutik hartu eta jaikiarazi egin zuen. Sukarrak alde egin zion, eta zerbitzatzen hasi zitzaien.
32 Arratsean, eguzkia sartu ondoren, gaixo eta deabrudun guztiak eraman zizkioten Jesusi.
33 Herri osoa bildu zitzaion atarian. 34 Eta hark gaixo asko sendatu zituen, edozein zela ere haien gaitza, eta deabru asko bota ere bai. Deabruei ez zien hitzik egiten uzten, bazekiten-eta nor zen. 35 Goizean goiz, oraindik ilun zegoela, Jesus herritik irten eta bazter bakarti batera joan zen; han otoitzean ari zen. 36 Simon eta lagunak haren bila hasi ziren; 37 aurkitzean, esan zioten: –Jende guztia zure bila dabil. 38 Hark, ordea, erantzun: –Goazen beste norabait, inguruko auzoetara, horietan ere berri ona hots egitera, horretarako atera bainaiz. 39 Eta Galilea guztian barrena ibili zen, hango sinagogetan berri ona hots egiten eta deabruak botatzen.
Amid his intense activity of an itinerant prophet, Jesus always took special care to have constant communication with God his Father in silence and solitude. The Gospels have preserved for us the vivid memory of his praying habit, which must have caused deep impression in his disciples: Jesus often withdrew at night to pray.
Today’s episode narrated by Mark helps us to understand what prayer meant for Jesus. The day before, Jesus had a hard day. Jesus “cured many sick.” He had a terribly “successful” day and Capernaum was shocked and speechless: “The whole town gathered around Jesus. Everyone talked about him. All wanted to see and touch him.”
That same night, at “dawn,” between three and six o’clock, Jesus gets up and, without telling his disciples, withdrew into the open. “There he began to pray.” He needs to be alone with his Father. He does not let himself be flattered by his success. He only wishes to do the will of the Father: to master the way his Father wants him to walk.
Surprised by his absence, Simon and the other disciples run after to get him. They did not hesitate to disturb his conversation with God. They just want to keep him, “Everyone is looking for you.” But Jesus does not allow himself to be programed or controlled from outside. Jesus is totally focused in his Father’s project. This project is about building God’s Kingdom in the here and now of history. Nothing and nobody can make him turn away from this mission.
Jesus has no interest in staying on to enjoy his success and popularity in Capernaum. He will not yield to popular enthusiasm. On the contrary, there are villages, which have not yet heard the Good News of God so he invites his disciples: “Come on … let’s go there too to preach the Good News.”
One of the most comforting features in contemporary Christianity, also noticeable in our parish, is to see how in many believers the need to care more carefully the communication with God, silence and meditation are awakening and growing. The most lucid and responsible Christians want to drag the Christian Communities of today to lead and live a contemplative way. It is an urgent task.
However, many of us Christians usually do not know any longer how to be alone with the Father; many are afraid of being alone and in silence and for this reason prefer to live distracted by the many gadgets modern technology offers us. Even theologians, priests and preachers and catechists talk much about God, but speak very little with Him. Jesus’ custom to pray alone with the Father has been forgotten a long time ago. In our parishes, we conduct many meetings, but often we forget to retire to take a rest in the presence of God to feel and experience His life-giving peace.
We are inclined more and more to do things, to accomplish goals and to program activities, in short, to control Jesus, rather than to let ourselves be guided by Jesus. We risk falling into hyperactive pastoral behavior, which make us wear out quickly and get empty inside. As a result, our problem is not having many problems, but rather, not having the necessary inner spiritual strength to face them.
¿Por qué orar?
En medio de su intensa actividad de profeta itinerante, Jesús siempre tuvo especial esmero en tener comunicación constante con Dios su Padre en silencio y soledad. Los Evangelios nos han preservado el vivo recuerdo de su hábito de orar, que debe haber causado profunda impresión en sus discípulos: Jesús a menudo se retiraba por la noche para orar.
El episodio de hoy, narrado por Marcos, nos ayuda a entender lo que la oración significaba para Jesús. El día anterior, Jesús tuvo un día difícil. Jesús “curó a muchos enfermos.” Tuvo un día enormemente “exitoso” y Cafarnaúm se maravilló y se quedó sin palabras: “Todo el pueblo se reunía alrededor de Jesús. Todos hablaban de él. Todos querían verlo y tocarlo.”
Esa misma noche, al “amanecer,” sobre las tres y las seis de la madrugada, Jesús se levanta y, sin decir nada a sus discípulos, se retira a un lugar solitario. “Allí comenzó a orar.” Necesitaba estar a solas con su Padre. No se deja influenciar por el halago de las gentes. Él solo desea hacer la voluntad del Padre: caminar el camino que su Padre quiere que él camine. ¡Solo Dios le bastaba!
Sorprendido por su ausencia, Simón y los otros discípulos, corren a buscarlo. No dudaron en perturbar su conversación con Dios. Como que le quieren controlar: “Todos te están buscando.” Pero Jesús no deja ser programado o controlado desde afuera. Jesús está totalmente centrado en el proyecto de su Padre: construir el Reino de Dios en el aquí y ahora de la historia. Nada ni nadie puede hacer que se aparte de esta misión.
Jesús no tiene ningún interés en quedarse en Cafarnaúm para disfrutar del éxito y la popularidad. Jamás cederá ante el entusiasmo popular. Por el contrario, ya que hay aldeas y pueblecitos que aún no han escuchado la Buena Nueva de Dios, invita a sus discípulos a ir a ellas: “Vámonos … vayamos también allí, para predicar la Buena Nueva.”
Una de las características más reconfortantes en el cristianismo contemporáneo, también notable aquí en nuestra parroquia, es ver cómo muchos creyentes sienten la necesidad de cuidar con más esmero la comunicación con Dios, cultivar el silencio y la meditación. Los cristianos más lúcidos y responsables quieren guiar a las comunidades cristianas de hoy a vivir de una manera más contemplativa. Es una tarea urgente.
Sin embargo, muchos de nosotros, cristianos, ya no sabemos estar a solas con el Padre; muchos temen la soledad y el silencio y por esta razón prefieren vivir distraídos manejando los muchos artilugios que la tecnología moderna nos ofrece. Incluso teólogos, sacerdotes, predicadores y catequistas hablamos mucho de Dios, pero hablamos muy poco con Él. La costumbre de Jesús de orar solo con el Padre ha sido olvidada hace mucho tiempo. En nuestras parroquias, llevamos a cabo muchas reuniones, pero a menudo nos olvidamos de retirarnos a “descansar” en la presencia de Dios, para sentir y experimentar su vida, que nos da mucha paz.
Preferimos más y más hacer cosas, lograr metas y a programar actividades; en resumen, preferimos más controlar a Jesús, que dejarnos guiar por Él. Caemos en la tentación del hiper-activismo, que nos desgasta rápidamente y quedarnos vacíos por dentro. Como resultado, nuestro problema no es tener muchos problemas, sino más bien, no tener la fuerza espiritual interna necesaria para enfrentarlos y solucionarlos.
Sunday January 28, 2018
Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time (B)
Gospel Mk 1: 21-28
Then they came to Capernaum, and on the sabbath Jesus entered the synagogue and taught. The people were astonished at his teaching, for he taught them as one having authority and not as the scribes. In their synagogue was a man with an unclean spirit; he cried out, “What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God!” Jesus rebuked him and said, “Quiet! Come out of him!” The unclean spirit convulsed him and with a loud cry came out of him. All were amazed and asked one another, “What is this? A new teaching with authority. He commands even the unclean spirits and they obey him.” His fame spread everywhere throughout the whole region of Galilee.
Ebanjelioa Markos 1: 21-28
21 Kafarnaumen sartu ziren. Eta, larunbatean sinagogara joanik, irakasten hasi zen Jesus. 22 Haren irakaspenaz txunditurik zegoen jende guztia, nagusitasunez irakasten baitzien eta ez lege-maisuek bezala. 23 Bazen, hain zuzen, sinagoga hartan espiritu gaiztoaren menpe zegoen gizon bat. Eta oihuka ekin zion: 24 –Zer duk gurekin, Nazareteko Jesus? Gu hondatzera al hator? Bazekiat nor haizen: Jainkoaren Santua. 25 Jesusek gogor eraso zion: –Isil hadi eta irten horrengandik! 26 Espiritu gaiztoak astinaldi gogorra eman zion eta, garrasi handia eginez, atera egin zen harengandik. 27 Guztiz ikaraturik gelditu ziren denak, elkarri galdezka: «Zer dugu hau? Irakaspen berria, eta nolako nagusitasunez emana gainera! Espiritu gaiztoei ere agintzen die eta hauek esana egiten!» 28 Laster zabaldu zen Jesusen entzutea Galilea aldeko bazter guztietara.
The way Jesus taught engendered, among the people, the impression that they were in front of something unknown and admirable. The oldest Christian sources point to it and researchers think that was really so. Jesus did not teach as the Scribes of the Law did. “They were astonished at his teaching, for he taught them as one who had authority.” The disciples appear to have seen in Jesus a rare integrity. His word freed people from “evil spirits.”
We must not mix up “authority” with “power.” Mark is very precise in his language. The word of Jesus does not come from power. Jesus did not try to impose his own will on others. Jesus never taught to control the behavior of people. Jesus does not use coercion or threats. Jesus’ words were not coated with institutional power either. People around him may have questioned his right and his authority to do what he did, but in their very questions, they bore eloquent testimony to the presence of something quite different and authentic in him. His “authority” came from the Spirit who was in him. His authority came from his love and compassion for the people. Jesus sought to alleviate their sufferings, to heal their wounds, to promote a more humane lifestyle. Jesus never generated submission, infantilism or passivity among his listeners. Jesus tried to free people from fear, to instill confidence in God, to encourage people to build a new world.
It is obvious that we may be experiencing a crisis of authority. Our trust in institutions may be at its minimum. Even within the Church, many speak of a strong “devaluation of authority.” Homilies are boring. Words seem to have become meaningless. We don’t question monetary donations to the church, how that money has been acquired in the first place, or why money is being used to force a certain view of the church.
Is it not time to go back to Jesus and learn to teach as he did? The word of the Church must come from the real love for people, the small and the weak (the anewin). It has to be uttered—as Pope Francis tells us—after carefully listening to the suffering of the people, and not before. Our words must reflect our closeness to the suffering people, be warm, and capable of accompanying them in their suffering. We need to utter words that are free from the seduction of power and rather full of the power of the Spirit. Words that are born from respect and the positive esteem of people, capable of generating hope, joy, and healing wounds.
It would be a serious mistake if we, within the Church, would continue listening to the “doctrine of lawyers” rather than the healing words of Jesus.
Autoridad que hace libres
La forma en que Jesús enseñó provocó, entre la gente, la impresión de que estaban frente a algo desconocido y admirable. Las fuentes cristianas más antiguas lo señalan y los investigadores piensan que realmente fue así. Jesús no enseñaba como lo hacían los escribas de la ley. “Todos se asombraban de su enseñanza, porque él enseñaba como alguien que tenía autoridad.” Los discípulos y las gentes veían en Jesús una integridad rara. Su palabra liberaba a la gente de los “espíritus malignos.”
No debemos confundir “autoridad” con “poder.” Marcos es muy preciso en su lenguaje. La palabra de Jesús no viene del poder. Jesús no intentó imponer su propia voluntad a los demás. Jesús nunca enseñó a controlar el comportamiento de las personas. Jesús no usa coerción o amenazas. Las palabras de Jesús tampoco estaban revestidas con poder institucional. La gente a su alrededor podía haber cuestionado su derecho y su autoridad para hacer lo que hizo, pero en sus propias preguntas, siempre dieron testimonio elocuente de la presencia de algo completamente diferente y auténtico en él. Su “autoridad” venía del Espíritu que estaba en él. Su autoridad venía de su amor y compasión por la gente. Jesús buscó aliviar sus sufrimientos, curar sus heridas, promover un estilo de vida más humano. Jesús nunca generó sumisión, infantilismo o pasividad entre sus oyentes. Jesús trató de liberar a las personas del temor, infundir confianza en Dios, alentar a las personas a construir un mundo nuevo.
Es obvio que podemos estar experimentando una crisis de autoridad. Nuestra confianza en las instituciones puede ser mínima. Incluso dentro de la Iglesia, muchos hablan de una fuerte “devaluación de la autoridad.” Las homilías son aburridas. Las palabras parecen haberse vuelto sin sentido. No cuestionamos las donaciones monetarias a la iglesia. ¿Cómo se ha adquirido ese dinero en primer lugar? ¿Por qué se usa el dinero para forzar una cierta visión de la iglesia?
¿No es hora de volver a Jesús y aprender a enseñar como él lo hizo? La palabra de la Iglesia debe provenir del amor real por las personas, los pequeños y los débiles (los anewin). Tiene que ser pronunciado, como nos dice el Papa Francisco, después de escuchar atentamente el sufrimiento de la gente, y no antes. Nuestras palabras deben reflejar nuestra cercanía con las personas que sufren, ser cálidas y capaces de acompañarlas en su sufrimiento. Necesitamos pronunciar palabras que estén libres de la seducción del poder y más bien estar llenos del Espíritu. Solo las palabras, que nacen del respeto y la estima positiva de las personas, son capaces de generar esperanza, alegría y heridas sanadoras.
Sería un grave error si nosotros, dentro de la Iglesia, continuáramos escuchando la “doctrina de los escribas y doctores de la iglesia” en lugar de las palabras sanadoras de Jesús.
Sunday January 21, 2018
Third Sunday in Ordinary Time (B)
Gospel Mk 1: 14-20
After John had been arrested, Jesus came to Galilee proclaiming the gospel of God: “This is the time of fulfillment. The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel.” As he passed by the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting their nets into the sea; they were fishermen. Jesus said to them, “Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men.” Then they abandoned their nets and followed him. He walked along a little farther and saw James, the son of Zebedee, and his brother John. They too were in a boat mending their nets. Then he called them. So they left their father Zebedee in the boat along with the hired men and followed him.
Ebanjelioa Markos 1: 14-20
14 Joan Bataiatzailea kartzelan sartu eta gero, Jesus Galileara etorri zen eta Jainkoaren berri ona hots egiten zuen. 15 Honela zioen: «Betea da garaia, eta gainean duzue Jainkoaren erregetza. Bihozberri zaitezte eta sinetsi berri ona». 16 Jesusek, Galileako aintzira-bazterrean zehar zihoala, Simon eta honen anaia Andres ikusi zituen sareak uretara botatzen, arrantzaleak baitziren. 17 Jesusek esan zien: «Zatozte nirekin eta giza arrantzale egingo zaituztet». 18 Haiek, besterik gabe, sareak utzi eta jarraitu egin zioten. 19 Aurreraxeago, Santiago eta Joan anaiak, Zebedeoren semeak, ikusi zituen; sare-konponketan ari ziren beren ontzian. 20 Ikusi bezain laster, dei egin zien. Haiek, beren aita Zebedeo eta mutilak ontzian utzirik, Jesusen ondoren abiatu ziren.
Jesus and Personal and Social Transformation
Many scholars have written important works to try to define precisely where the “essence of Christianity” is to be found. However, to know the center of the Christian faith, we do not need to go to any theological theory. First thing is to understand what was for Jesus his most important goal, the center of his life, the absolute, the cause to which he devoted himself to in body and soul.
No one doubts today that Mark’s gospel has sharply summarized that goal in these words: “The kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the Good News.” The aim of Jesus was to introduce in the world what he called “the kingdom of God (Malkuta Yahweh):” a community of brothers and sisters structured in a fair and dignified manner for all, just as God wants it.
When God reigns in the world, humanity progresses in justice, solidarity, compassion, fraternity and peace. To this goal Jesus gave passionately all his energies. For believing in this dream, or utopia, and for putting all his energies into its accomplishment, he was persecuted, tortured and executed. “The kingdom of God” was the absolute value for him.
The conclusion is obvious: the strength, the energy, the sense of purpose, the reason and the ultimate meaning of Christianity is “the kingdom of God,” and nothing else. The only criteria to measure the Christian identity, the truth of any spirituality or the value of what the Church is, is always subject and at the service of the “kingdom of God.” In a nutshell, the only way to look at life as Jesus did, the only way to feel things as Jesus felt, the only way to act as Jesus did, is to guide all our lives toward building a more humane world.
However, many Christians have not yet heard what is the “kingdom of God.” One of the most serious heresies which we, with the passing of time, have introduced in our Christian rationale, is to make of the Church an absolute principle; worst still, to identify our Church with the “Kingdom of God.” It is a serious error to think that the Church is the center to which everything else must be subordinated. It is a serious mistake to make of the Church the “replacement” of the kingdom of God. This is what Pope Francis calls a self-referential church. This error and mistake has led us to worry more for the organization and the strengthening of the juridical, liturgical aspects of a triumphal Church, rather than taking care of the suffering in the world and fighting for the building of a more equitable and just society. Often the official church has looked at the other side in front of flagrant social injustices, in order to maintain her privileges.
It is not easy to maintain our Christian convictions oriented toward serving the values of the kingdom of God, but when we do try working in that direction, then faith becomes more creative and, above all, more evangelical and Christian.
Jesús y la transformación personal y social
Muchos estudiosos han escrito importantes obras para tratar de definir con precisión cuál sería la “esencia del cristianismo”. Sin embargo, para conocer el centro de la fe cristiana, no necesitamos ir a ninguna teoría teológica. Lo primero es comprender qué fue para Jesús su objetivo más importante, el centro de su vida, lo absoluto, la causa a la que se consagró en cuerpo y alma.
Nadie duda hoy de que el evangelio de Marcos ha resumido acertadamente ese objetivo en estas palabras: “El reino de Dios está cerca. Arrepiéntete y cree en la Buena Nueva.” El objetivo de Jesús era introducir en el mundo lo que él llamó “el reino de Dios (Malkuta Yahveh):” una comunidad de hermanos y hermanas estructurada de manera justa y digna para todos, justo como lo quiere Dios.
Cuando Dios reina en el mundo, la humanidad progresa en justicia, solidaridad, compasión, fraternidad y paz. Para este objetivo, Jesús dedicó apasionadamente todas sus energías. Por creer en este sueño o utopía, y por poner todas sus energías en su realización, fue perseguido, torturado y ejecutado. “El reino de Dios” fue el valor absoluto para él.
La conclusión es obvia: la fuerza, la energía, el sentido final, la razón y el significado último del cristianismo es “el reino de Dios,” y nada más. El único criterio para medir la identidad cristiana, la verdad de cualquier espiritualidad o el valor de lo que la Iglesia es, está siempre sujeto y al servicio del “reino de Dios.” En pocas palabras, la única forma de ver la vida como lo hizo Jesús, la única manera de sentir las cosas como sintió Jesús, la única manera de actuar como lo hizo Jesús, es guiar todas nuestras vidas hacia la construcción de un mundo más humano.
Sin embargo, muchos cristianos aún no han escuchado lo que es el “reino de Dios.” Una de las herejías más serias que presentamos en nuestra lógica cristiana es hacer de la Iglesia un principio absoluto; peor aún, identificar a nuestra Iglesia con el “Reino de Dios.” Es un grave error pensar que la Iglesia es el centro al que todo lo demás debe subordinarse. Es un grave error hacer de la Iglesia el “substituto” del reino de Dios. Es lo que el papa Francisco llama una iglesia autocomplaciente. Este error nos ha llevado a preocuparnos más por la organización y el fortalecimiento de los aspectos jurídicos y litúrgicos de una Iglesia triunfal, en lugar de ocuparnos del sufrimiento y el dolor en el mundo y luchar por la construcción de una sociedad más equitativa y justa. A menudo, la iglesia oficial ha mirado al otro lado frente a injusticias sociales flagrantes, a fin de mantener sus privilegios.
No es fácil mantener nuestras convicciones cristianas orientadas a servir a los valores del reino de Dios, pero cuando intentamos trabajar en esa dirección, entonces la fe se vuelve más creativa y, sobre todo, más evangélica y cristiana.
Sunday January 14, 2018
Second Sunday of Ordinary Time (B)
Gospel Jn 1: 35-42
John was standing with two of his disciples, and as he watched Jesus walk by, he said, “Behold, the Lamb of God.” The two disciples heard what he said and followed Jesus. Jesus turned and saw them following him and said to them, “What are you looking for?” They said to him, “Rabbi” — which translated means Teacher —, “where are you staying?” He said to them, “Come, and you will see.” So, they went and saw where Jesus was staying, and they stayed with him that day. It was about four in the afternoon. Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter, was one of the two who heard John and followed Jesus. He first found his own brother Simon and told him, “We have found the Messiah” — which is translated Christ —. Then he brought him to Jesus. Jesus looked at him and said, “You are Simon the son of John; you will be called Cephas” — which is translated Peter.
Ebanjelioa Joan 1: 35-42
35 Hurrengo egunean, berriro ere bertan zegoen Joan bere bi ikaslerekin. 36 Jesus handik igarotzen ikusirik, esan zuen: «Hona hemen Jainkoaren Bildotsa». 37 Bi ikasleek, hori entzutean, Jesusi jarraitu zioten. 38 Jesusek, atzera begiratu eta ondoren zetozkiola ikusirik, galdetu zien: –Zeren bila zabiltzate? Haiek erantzun: –Rabbi, non bizi zara? (Rabbik «Maisu» esan nahi du). 39 Jesusek esan zien: –Etorri eta ikusi. Joan, non bizi zen ikusi eta berarekin gelditu ziren egun hartan. Arratsaldeko laurak aldea zen. 40 Joani entzun eta Jesusi jarraitu zioten bietariko bat Andres zen, Simon Pedroren anaia. 41 Lehenik, bere anaia Simonekin egin zuen topo, eta esan zion: «Mesias aurkitu diagu» (Mesiasek «Kristo» –hau da, Gantzutu– esan nahi du). 42 Eta Jesusengana eraman zuen. Jesusek, begira-begira jarririk, esan zion: «Simon zara zu, Joanen semea, baina aurrerantzean Kefas deituko zara» (Kefasek «Pedro» –hau da, Harkaitz– esan nahi du).
On the Road to the Encounter with Jesus
Two disciples, guided by the Baptist, decide to follow Jesus. For a while, they walk behind him in silence. Yet, there has been no real contact with him. Suddenly, Jesus turns back toward them and asks a crucial question: “What do you seek? What do you expect from me?”
They still answer him yet with another question: “Rabbi, where do you live?” As if they wished to asked him: What is the secret of your life? Where have you anchored your life? What is for you the meaning of life? Jesus’s response is simple, yet challenging: “Come and see.” Jesus invites them to experience it personally together with him: “Come and live with me. Discover who I am and how I can transform your life.”
This short dialogue sheds more light on the essentials of the Christian faith than many complicated words and sermons. In short, what is that which is necessary to be a Christian? It is not about making dramatic sacrifices or living in the desert dressed in camel skin and eating worms. It is all about knowing Jesus and trying to be like him, to imitate him. The Middle Age spiritual masters used the expression: “imitatio Christi.”
It is not about finding something but encountering someone. It is not about knowing things about Jesus, knowing doctrine or lots of theology; it is about becoming in tune with him, to internalize his basic and deepest attitudes, and experience that his person does me good, that it revives my spirit and it gives me strength and hope to live on. When this occurs, one begins to realize how little my faith in Jesus is, and how wrong I understood almost everything about Jesus.
We may need to forget our convictions, doctrines, personal schemes and certainties. Jesus does not ask me to be more religious and more pious. He just asks me to know Him better. To walk along the road with Him.
What it means to be a Christian is to try to live as Jesus lived, albeit in a very simple and primitive way. It is about believing in what he believed, to give importance to what He gave importance to and to be interested in what he was interested, to look at life from the very perspective he did, to deal with people as he did, to listen to the weak the way he did, to welcome and accompany them as he did. In a nutshell, to trust God as he trusted, and to pray as he prayed.
En el camino hacia el encuentro con Jesús
Dos discípulos, guiados por el Bautista, deciden seguir a Jesús. Por un momento, caminan detrás de él en silencio. Todavía no ha habido contacto real con él. De repente, Jesús se vuelve hacia ellos y hace una pregunta crucial: “¿Qué es lo que buscas? ¿Qué esperas de mí?”
Todavía le responden con otra pregunta: Rabino “¿dónde vives?” Como si quisieran preguntarle: ¿Cuál es el secreto de tu vida? ¿Dónde has anclado tu vida? ¿Cuál es para ti el significado de la vida? La respuesta de Jesús es simple, pero desafiante: “Vengan y vean.” Jesús los invita a experimentarlo estando junto a él: “Vengan y vivan conmigo”. Descubran quién soy y cómo puedo transformar tu vida.”
Este breve diálogo arroja más luz sobre lo esencial de la fe cristiana que muchas palabras y sermones complicados. En resumen, ¿qué es eso que es necesario para ser cristiano? No se trata de hacer sacrificios dramáticos o vivir en el desierto vestidos con piel de camello y comiendo gusanos. Se trata de conocer a Jesús y tratar de ser como él, de imitarlo. Los maestros espirituales de la Edad Media usaron la expresión: “imitatio Christi.”
No se trata de encontrar algo, sino de encontrar a alguien. No se trata de conocer cosas sobre Jesús, saber doctrina o mucha teología; se trata de sintonizar con él, de interiorizar sus actitudes básicas y más profundas, y experimentar que su persona me hace bien, que revive mi espíritu y me da fuerza y esperanza para seguir viviendo. Cuando esto ocurre, uno comienza a darse cuenta de cuán poca es mi fe en Jesús y cuán equivocado estaba yo en casi todo acerca de Jesús.
Es posible que tengamos que olvidar nuestras convicciones, doctrinas, esquemas personales y certezas. Jesús no me pide que sea más religioso y más piadoso. Solo me pide que le conozca mejor. Caminar con él por los caminos de la vida.
Ser cristiano es intentar vivir como Jesús vivió, aunque de una manera muy simple y primitiva. Se trata de creer en lo que él creía, de darle importancia a lo que Él daba importancia y de interesarse por lo que él se interesaba, de mirar la vida desde la misma perspectiva que él, de tratar a la gente como él lo hacía, de escuchar la débil como él lo hizo, acogerlos y acompañarlos como lo hizo él. En pocas palabras, confiar en Dios como él confiaba y orar como él oraba.
Sunday January 7, 2018
The Epiphany of the Lord (B)
Gospel Mt 2: 1-12
When Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, in the days of King Herod, behold, magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem, saying, “Where is the newborn king of the Jews? We saw his star at its rising and have come to do him homage.” When King Herod heard this, he was greatly troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. Assembling all the chief priests and the scribes of the people, He inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. They said to him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for thus it has been written through the prophet: And you, Bethlehem, land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
since from you shall come a ruler, who is to shepherd my people Israel.” Then Herod called the magi secretly and ascertained from them the time of the star’s appearance. He sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search diligently for the child. When you have found him, bring me word, that I too may go and do him homage.” After their audience with the king they set out. And behold, the star that they had seen at its rising preceded them, until it came and stopped over the place where the child was. They were overjoyed at seeing the star, and on entering the house they saw the child with Mary his mother. They prostrated themselves and did him homage. Then they opened their treasures and offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed for their country by another way.
Ebanjelioa Mateo 2: 1-12
1 Jesus Judeako Belen herrian jaio zen, Herodes erregearen garaian. Jesus jaio ondoren, sortaldeko jakintsu batzuk azaldu ziren Jerusalemen, 2 galdezka: –Non da juduen errege jaioberria? Haren izarra ikusi dugu sortaldean eta gurtzera gatoz. 3 Berri honekin larritu egin zen Herodes erregea, baita Jerusalem hiri osoa ere. 4 Orduan, herriko apaizburu eta lege-maisu guztiak bildu eta Mesias non jaiotzekoa zen galdetu zien. 5 Haiek erantzun zioten: –Judeako Belenen, honela idatzi baitzuen profetak: 6 Eta zu, Judako Belen, ez zara, ez, Judako hirietan txikiena; zuregandik aterako baita buruzagia, Israel nire herria gobernatuko duena. 7 Orduan, Herodesek, jakintsuak isilean deiturik, izarra noiz agertu zitzaien jakin zuen zehatz. 8 Gero, Belenera bidali zituen, esanez: «Zoazte eta jakin xuxen haurraren berri eta, aurkitu ondoren, adierazi niri, neu ere gurtzera joan nadin». 9-10 Erregearen hitz hauek entzunik, abiatu egin ziren. Bidean, sortaldean ikusitako izarra agertu zitzaien eta biziki poztu ziren. Izarra aurretik joan zitzaien, haurra zegoen toki gainean gelditu arte. 11 Etxean sarturik, haurra ikusi zuten Maria bere amarekin eta, ahuspezturik, gurtu; ondoren, beren kutxatilak zabalduz, esku-erakutsiak eskaini zizkioten: urrea, intsentsua eta mirra. 12 Gero, Herodesengana ez itzultzeko oharra ametsetan harturik, beste bide batetik itzuli ziren beren herrialdera.
WHOM DO I WORSHIP?
The Magi come from the “East,” a place that evokes among the Jewish, the fatherland of astrology and other esoteric sciences. These people are pagans. They do not know the Holy Scriptures of Israel, but only the language of the stars. However, the Magi seek the truth and set out on the road to discover it. They let themselves be guided by the mystery and feel the urge to “worship.”
The presence of the Magi shocks everyone in Jerusalem. The Magi declare having seen a new star shine in heaven and that makes them think that the “king of the Jews” is born and they come to “worship him.” This king is neither Caesar Augustus nor King Herod. Who is he then? Where is He? This is their question.
Herod was “startled.” The news does not make him happy. He is the “King of the Jews” appointed and blessed by Rome. This newborn usurper must be eliminated at once: where is this strange intruder? The “chief priests and scribes” know vaguely the Scriptures and proclaim that he is to be born in Bethlehem, but they do not care much about it and have no intention in going to worship the Child.
This is what Jesus will encounter throughout his life: hostility and rejection on the part of the representatives of political powers; indifference and resistance from religious leaders. Only those who seek the kingdom of God and His righteousness will welcome Him.
The Magi continue their long search. Sometimes, the star that guides them disappears leaving them in uncertainty. Other times, the star shines again filling them with “immense joy.” Finally, they encounter the Child, and “falling on their knees, they worship him.” Then they place at the service of the Child all the wealth and treasures they have. This Child can count on them because they recognize in Him their King and Lord.
This apparently simple and childish story hides crucial questions for each one of us: In front of whom or what do I kneel down? Who is the “God” I worship? We call ourselves Christians, but, do we come to Bethlehem to adore the Child? Am I ready to place my riches, wellbeing and capabilities at the service of this Child? Am I willing to listen to his call to enter the kingdom of God and his righteousness? In the lives of each one of us, there is always a Star that guides me towards Bethlehem. Do I follow it? Or I just try to ignore it?
I wish you all a very happy and prosperous New Year 2018.